Should We Get Paid to Recycle?

If you live in Vermont, it pays to recycle. Vermont is one of 10 states that have a “bottle bill.” That’s a law that allows people to get money back for recycling bottles and cans. In Vermont, people pay an extra 5 cents when they buy some beverages. They get that nickel back for each soda bottle or can they bring to a return center.

Lawmakers in Vermont are trying to change the law to include sports drink and water bottles. They also want to double the payout to 10 cents for most containers. They say bottle bills encourage people to recycle more. In states that have bottle bills, the average recycling rate for bottles and cans is about 60 percent. In the 40 other states, that rate is about 24 percent.

But others say bottle bills are no longer needed. Since the first bill was passed in Oregon in 1971, many states have started universal recycling programs. People leave recyclable items on the curb to be picked up by sanitation workers. Some people argue that it’s a waste of money for states to have both bottle bills and recycling programs. 

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Debate photos courtesy of families

My family recycles without getting paid. But I think more people would be encouraged to do so if there were a bottle bill in Virginia! Reports show that recycling rates are higher in states with bottle bills. And the recycling industry provides jobs for nearly 700,000 people. 

Getting money motivates people to pick up litter. In New York, my dad and grandpa used to pick up bottles to clean their community. My dad earned enough to buy a Nintendo system!

Debate photos courtesy of families

Recycling 10 bottles for 10 cents each will earn you $1. But if you drive to the return center, you will need gas to get there. So you’d be using up a nonrenewable resource. Plus, gas prices average about $4 per gallon. Are you really making money or helping the environment? 

Why should people expect a reward for taking care of their own planet? In south New Jersey, we don’t want our beaches to get polluted. That’s why we recycle.

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