'It ain't easy being green" — Kermit the Frog was right in pointing this out, especially as it relates to the Governor's proposals to ban so-called single-use plastic bags (your average dog owner might disagree); and expand the Bottle Bill which, as proposed, would hurt the state's fruit and vegetable farmers.
Plastic bags: The Governor believes eliminating these would promote recycling, when instead these are hurting recycling right now. By people putting these into recycling bins/carts, these are merely jamming up the sorting equipment at the state's recycling centers, resulting in equipment shutdowns every day. Plastic bags and plastic wrap should go to a store drop-off bin. This tonnage is captured and recycled separately.
The plastic bags which should be banned are the trash bags used to capture yard waste — principally leaves. The state's commercial haulers and municipalities should be insisting on PAPER yard waste bags and/or re-usable containers. This will increase composting, which is another form of recycling.
Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D), Long Island, also wants a 10-cent surcharge on paper bags, which are made with recycled content and are recyclable. More of this tonnage can be used to help make the paper bags as stated above, thus a foolish idea.
The Bottle Bill: As proposed, this expansion would place the 5-cent deposit on fruit and vegetable drinks, which would both hurt farmers and further drive people toward drinks which health officials view as less healthy.
Instead, while the nickle should go on all other single-serve drinks, a "New York State Good Health Exemption" should be placed on all:
• Plain milk and plain milk-related products (which the proposal does).
• Plain fruit and vegetable drinks (so farmers aren't hurt).
• Plain single-serve bottled water drinks, as plain water isn't a discretionary drink, and these are necessary in an emergency situation. The nickle shouldn't have gone on these in the first place.
Confusion, carelessness and containerization are what's hurting the state's "green" efforts, both residentially and commercially. Prudent changes, such as those mentioned above, will help assist everyone statewide in "being green," rather than complicating matters further.
Jeff Goldblatt of Rochester is a member of the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling; the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management; and the Solid Waste Association of North America.