The South Carolina Recycling Industry Group launched this year’s Recycling Industry Legislative Day by promoting a beverage container recycling bill, sponsored by Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown).
The bill targets the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants and bars.
The Hospitality Association has been proactive in recycling. They try to get their businesses in their community to do it. But at this time, only 49 out of 3,000 of the restaurants choose to recycle.
According to Cleary, a small local restaurant, such as Drunken Jack’s in Murrells Inlet, will produce 15 tons of waste material each month. For comparison, he said the Chamber of Commerce generates 1,200 pounds of material.
Currently, there is no state mandate to recycle, but some restaurants, like Drunken Jack’s, are doing it and Cleary says the effort is becoming cost-effective for them. However, if the ABC bill becomes law, a recycling plan will be required for the hospitality industry.
The South Carolina Hospitality Association criticizes the legislation. President Tom Sponseller says most communities do not recycle glass, which make up 90 percent of the containers used in bars. Sponseller said the law would put an additional burden on bars and restaurants that it does not put on any other industry.
Rep. James Smith (D-Richland) said the impact of the recycling industry on the economy would grow. According to Smith, the recycling industry is growing at an annual rate of 12 percent.
According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce… the recycling industry announced over $438 million in capital investment, 1,130 new jobs, with 28 new or existing companies investing in South Carolina.”
Will Sager, president of the Carolina Recycling Association and policy director at Southeast Recycling Development Council, says there is a large and growing need for biofeedstock as more manufacturers are depending on recycled materials to produce consumer goods.
The demand exists for all of these materials. Long gone are the stories of warehouses full of day-old newspaper that has nowhere to go. That newspaper now is worth $140 a ton and more. It doesn’t sit around long.
Sager says the ABC bill has already proven its worth in other states such as North Carolina, where it has been in place for four years. Sagar says as a result of the law, that state has captured 35,000 tons of recyclable material each year for industrial feedstock.
Cleary suggests a visual:
At the end of the day, I’d ask you, if you think we don’t need it, just drive east on I-20. Just a little bit from Columbia, and you will see a mountain on the right side. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a landfill. We need to slow the growth of these landfills down, and this is a bill that I’m hoping with the help of the legislature we can get through to be the start of how South Carolina recycles to lead the nation.