Legislators are considering a controversial bill that would require bars and restaurants to come up with a recycling plan in order to receive a license to serve alcohol.
The bill would force a restaurant to create the plans whenever it applied for or renewed its alcohol license.
Sen Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown). Sheheen said he hoped it would save tons of unnecessary trash.
Thousands of tons of this waste is going into landfills (every year). Our goal is really to try to find a way to make sure that waste stream, instead of going into landfills, goes into the recycling stream. It’ll help conserve our natural resources and, at the same time, help many of our local recycling businesses.
Several bar owners criticized the bill, saying it raises costs– especially since few communities recycle glass, which makes up roughly 90 percent of the containers used in bars. The South Carolina Hospitality Association said it was “uncomfortable” with the rule. President Tom Sponseller said recycling should not be required in order to get a license to do business.
Recycling has no… relationship to alcohol licenses. Obviously, we don’t like anything tied to a license… that’s not related to that license. That could jeopardize business sometime in the future.
Sponseller said bars were being unfairly targeted.
This is only aimed at a select few businesses– about 3,000 out of 100,000 businesses we have in this state. It’s only aimed at restaurants and bars that happen to sell alcohol. No other type of business would be mandated to recycle.
He said it would hurt small “mom and pop” shops, which he says make up the majority of bars in South Carolina.
Although most counties and cities offer recycling programs, few recycle glass. The problem is that glass is not a valuable product. Sponseller said it only sells for about $50 per ton, as opposed to the $1800 per ton for aluminum cans.
Sheheen says he hopes more private recyclers would move into the market if businesses had to properly dispose of glass.
The bill does say state officials could not refuse to license to a bar that did not come up with a plan, however. Some bars located in areas where recycling service is non-existent would be exempt, for example.
A Senate panel heard arguments on the bill Wednesday. Legislators appeared open to the proposal.