Paul Nichols, Bergen Dispatch
The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to require a deposit on all plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans and dedicate 75 percent of the unclaimed deposits to lead abatement in New Jersey schools and communities.
Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle held a press conference prior to the committee hearing on the “Smart Container Act.” Vainieri Huttle was joined by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, Mayor Ras Baraka, members of the NJ Working Families Alliance and its partners in environmental, economic, infrastructure, as well as Newark school board members and district employees.
In the bill (A-2281), the sponsor notes that litter composed of discarded beverage bottles and cans is a growing problem of public concern and a direct threat to the health and safety of the citizens of this State; and that all beverage bottles and cans sold or offered for sale in this State have a refund value, and to provide for the convenient return and payment of the refund value of empty beverage containers.
“This is ‘smart’ legislation that can potentially encourage more residents to recycle, reduce hazardous litter, relieve an overburdened solid water management system and raise funds for schools and communities,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This bill puts unsightly rubbish to good use for the people of New Jersey.”
Under the bill, a portion of the revenue generated by the act would be directed to a “Smart Container Fund” for healthy schools and community lead abatement throughout New Jersey. The proposal would include juice, sports drinks, and bottled waters as well as soda, wine and beer containers.
“The funds raised as a result of this legislation may not cover the total cost of lead abatement projects and the repair of the state’s water infrastructure but it’s a place to start accumulating the dollars to help with these projects around the state,” Vainieri Huttle continued.
The measure will now return to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.