Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Single Guy and Recycling

Hawaii has had a recycling law for a few years now. It's completely out of whack in that they charge you $0.06 per bottle/can and when you return the container you only get $0.05 back. They have $0.01 as an administrative fee. You have to go to special recycle centers to get your money back and they can weigh rather than count the containers. The state keeps the money for containers not returned and then they also get the extra penny. Plus, if the recycling rate his 70%, they will charge $0.065 per container, meaning since there is no half a penny they'll collect a full one. They have a surplus which in private business terms is making a profit on the basis of trying to keep Hawaii green. In my opinion, it's a poor implementation of a recycling program because they charge a lot, have made it very difficult to get your money back and make a profit off of the process.

Although, at first, I didn't care because I consume so much soda that I don't bother with bottles or cans from a case. I did the two liter bottles. I bought my soda, consumed my soda and then threw away the bottle. After the first year of the program, the legislature changed the program and two liter bottles were charged too. Damn, now I gotta pay that $0.06 per bottle. Alright...I'll pay.

For the returnables, I used to bring the bottles, 3-4 at a time into the office and drop them into the recycle container. As the operations manager, it was my responsibility to take care of them. I had a friend that would come by every so often and take the garbage bags full of bottles and cans from the worksite. Usually between 6 and 10 bags at a time were carted out for recycle. I asked my friend and he said he'd get between $10-$20 per trip. OK, cool.

The boss asked me to stop that one day as her daughter's Daisy troop were getting into the recycling. OK, not a problem. Hello friend, my boss has overridden me and she's going to take the recyclables for her daughter. Thanks for helping out! All is cool.

Then I get laid off. As I said earlier, I drink a lot of soda. Now, instead of being able to take the bottles to work, they lay around my apartment. The Apartment in Paradise as I call it isn't that big. But I would collect 20 bottles at a time and make a recycling run. I would dutifully make sure the caps were off, although I collect coke points and have gotten a crock pot, food processor, photo enlargements, and most recently a set of binoculars from point redemption; and the liquids were out before turning them in. I crushed them, counted them, put them in a garbage bag to take them a mile from my location to get back my nickels.

It just occurred to me today what a total waste of time recycling is under my conditions. To walk them over and then walk back would be 45 minutes. If I take the bus, it's $2.25 plus about 20 minutes of time. All that storage, effort and time for a measly buck back.Several times I got my nickels, but they kept the garbage bag which by itself was almost as valuable as the bottles! No matter how you cut it, I loose money. The return won't even buy a burger on the dollar menu at McDonalds because I'd have to take money out of my own pocket due to the excise tax.

So, what am I going to do? Just crush them and walk them out to the sidewalk with the rest of my ordinary trash. With the cost of oil, they are more valuable as fuel for the H-Power electricity generation. The state gets to keep my $1.20 that I paid and at least someone there could get a dollar menu burger at McDonalds and get change back.