BY ANN TIMBERLAKE You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like recycling.
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina sends over 9 billion pounds of trash to landfills annually. We can do better. The most obvious solution is to make recycling easier and reduce the need for landfills in our backyards.
Last year, the S.C. Senate passed the Alcoholic Beverage Container Recycling Bill (S.461) to increase recycling at the businesses that produce the highest volumes of recyclable containers — bars and restaurants with on-site consumption permits.
At a recent House Agriculture hearing on the bill, Steve Carroll, who heads the Charleston Restaurant Association and owns Red’s Ice House, was adamant in stating, “We are against this 100 percent.” We find it ironic that rather than lend support to recycling and give satisfaction to the customers of the hospitality industry, Carroll insists on leading the charge against responsible recycling.
I encourage Carroll and other members of the South Carolina Hospitality Association Board to reconsider their opposition to Sen. Ray Cleary’s reasonable bill.
Carroll also stated, “We have restaurants struggling every day. And the last thing we need when people are in survival mode is more government regulation.”
The reality is that regulations already exist to require that garbage be properly disposed of and not randomly dumped. The ABC Recycling bill simply adds an alternative to where the waste is hauled. It asks restaurant and bar owners to get a quote on the cost of recycling versus hauling to a landfill.
Getting a quote on the cost is good business because many bars and restaurants will actually pay less for recycling.
Most importantly, the conservation community is offering a compromise amendment to exempt businesses from the recycling option if the bid costs one penny more than current landfilling. All fines have been removed, and there is clear language to guarantee that the ABC license cannot be revoked.
South Carolina has a modest goal of recycling 35 percent of its waste stream. The current rate is less than 25 percent.
Establishments with on-site consumption permits generate large quantities of recyclable containers — containers that have value and that could fuel more local jobs.
Because of opposition from the Charleston Restaurant and Hospitality Associations, S.461 is now stuck in the House Agriculture Committee. Lawmakers are urging stakeholders to seek common ground so that the bill can be brought back up for a vote.
It is not enough for the Hospitality Association to offer only lip service for recycling.
In fact, many restaurants and bars already recycle and we urge their owners to publicly support S.461.
We also encourage patrons of restaurants and bars to voice their opinions.
Let’s all do our part to move the amended, “business friendly” recycling bill “off the menu” and through the House this year.
Ann Timberlake is executive director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina.