Recycling Efforts Could Drive Up Deposit Rates

Hawaii's year and a half old recycling program is having tremendous success, which could be good and bad news for recyclers.

More than 45 million containers were recycled in March alone, and more than 71 percent of all containers sold have been recycled so far this fiscal year.

But if we keep it up, the cost of a bottle of water -- or can of soda will be going up, again.

The recycling program works like this: buy a can or bottle of soda, pay 6 cents extra.

You get 5 cents back if you recycle it.

But because Hawaii is recycling so much, that extra 6 cents will be 6-and-a-half cents, to cover the costs.

Some people feel like they're being punished for doing something good.

Every month, Jory Lewis turns in her bottles and cans, it takes time to separate everything.

But she believes it's good for the environment, and good to have the extra pocket money.

Lewis says she makes about 45 dollars a month recycling, but that could soon be a little less.

Hawaii's recycling law requires a half cent increase in the deposit fee whenever more than 70-percent of containers sold are recycled.

"You want them to recycle, and then you're not gonna give them what you're entitled to, so that's some kind of form of punishment," says Lewis.

Laurence Lau from the Department of Health says, "I can understand how people feel that way, that you're being punished for success, but that's just how the law is written, and I think most recycling systems have to work that way."

Lau says, "Our goal is to maximize recycling, reduce litter, and reduce waste going into the landfill, and unfortunately, it's just the cost of operating the system."

If hawaii recyclers continue at this current rate, the fee will go up.

This fiscal year ends June 30th.

The increase would start on September 1st, and would be evaluated again at the end of the next fiscal year.