All that remains is the governor’s signature before statewide recycling is available to all Delawareans. But before the measure passed, House Republicans made one final stand.
After years of effort, every household in Delaware will soon have a recycling bin.
Senate Bill 234, which establishes a curbside recycling program for all Delawareans and eliminates the “Bottle Bill” deposit program, passed the House of Representatives by a 26-12 vote Tuesday night in Dover following more than two and a half hours of debate.
Gov. Jack Markell, who made the passage of the legislation a top priority this session, can now sign the bill into law.
“It means our landfills are going to last a much longer time,” he said. “So it’s good for the environment and good for the state’s pocketbook. That’s a win-win.”
According to Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Colin O’mara, out of 322,000 Delaware households about 76,000 currently have curbside recycling and another 40,000 use drop-off stations. He says that leaves a lot of room for improvement.
“The experience in Dover and Wilmington and other places in Delaware that have adopted programs have seen 80-85 percent of people that have a bin participate,” O’mara said. “So we’ll easily double the number of participants, if not even more.”
The program will be voluntary, but municipal waste haulers will be required to provide a recycling container and collection for all customers on the following timetable: Single-family homes and restaurants and bars by September 2011; multi-family residences, such as apartment complexes, by January 2013 and commercial businesses by January 2014.
The measure provides start-up money for the recycling program by converting the current 5-cent deposit on beer and soda containers to a 4-cent fee.
“We wanted a convenient and affordable recycling program, we thought that was the key to getting it through,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Michael Mulrooney (D-Pennwood). “We think that’s what the people want and that will encourage them to recycle and I think we’ll see that.”
But House Minority Leader Richard Cathcart (R-Middletown) isn’t so sure.
“I think the opposite is going to happen,” he said. “I’ve already talked to people who’ve said if they’re going to charge me for it, there’s no incentive for me to recycle. I’m going to throw it all in one bin and let them figure it out.”
Cathcart and other House Republicans made several arguments for killing the bill, in the form of seven amendments and claims the measure is unconstitutional. But each attempt failed.
“It’s a great idea, it’s a great concept,” he said. “But I think if you let private sector — the free market system — do this, the results will be much better than the results of this bill.”