Bottle bill nickels could really add up Laura McPhee A group of local Indianapolis residents is working to gather signatures on a petition asking state legislators to institute a mandatory bottle deposit law to spur an increase in glass recycling. Eleven states currently have some type of mandatory deposits on glass bottles, resulting in 75 percent of all bottles being recycled. In states without mandatory deposits, the average recycling rate is approximately 35 percent. Proponents of the measure claim that mandatory deposits will create jobs and generate income in Indiana. Jobs would be created in drop-off centers and would increase hiring in recycling centers. Income would be created by the amount of bottles not returned for recycling. With a 75 percent return rate, the state would keep the nickel on approximately 25 percent of the bottles. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Indiana’s population is 6,271,973. Massachusetts has a similar population, and the state collects as much as $40 million annually on unreturned bottle deposits. The grass-roots effort behind instituting a bottle deposit law in Indiana is currently working to collect 10,000 signatures on a petition asking the Indiana General Assembly to consider the law when they reconvene next January. Organizer Charlie Wiles feels hopeful about the group’s success. “Right now, we are building a lot of momentum; a lot of people think this is a great idea. We’re working to establish a coalition with a variety of grass-roots environmental organizations to see this thing passed. Right now, we’ve got about 1,000 signatures, and we’ve just gotten started.” Wiles and his co-activists are hoping to gather a large number of signatures for their petition at this Saturday’s Earth Day celebration at the American Legion Park in downtown Indianapolis at the corner of North Meridian and North streets. The festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and includes a variety of musical acts, food vendors, children’s activities and exhibitors. Participants include the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society, Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Bicycle Coalition, Indianapolis Vegetarian Society and NUVO. Anyone interested in signing the petition can stop by the NUVO booth at Earth Day, or go to the Indiana Peace and Justice Center Web site and follow the link for the Bottle Bill at www.indypeaceandjustice.org. What a few nickels could buy Proponents of a mandatory bottle deposit in Indiana say all those unclaimed nickels could really add up — particularly if they were used to replace depleted school budgets as a result of legislative cuts. Here’s how they would like to see the money spent: • 70 percent ($20 million) each year would be put into an account directly for three specific areas of our Indiana Public School systems. The money would be divided evenly, into three groups: providing healthier, higher quality school lunches; keeping fine arts programs in schools; and increasing pay for teachers. • 30 percent ($10 million) each year would be put into an account solely for environmental efforts in Indiana. These would include programs for clean-up acts, environmental protection and other recycling programs.