Choices that Created the Oregon Mystique: Governor Tom McCall's Foresight and Accomplishments

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D-Day (for Deposit) Is Sunday for Bottle Bill

Tomorrow is the day of reckoning on the "Bottle Bill." Until today, all the talk about preventing litter and preserving the environment through elimination of no-deposit, no-return cans and bottles has been just talk, theory.

Sunday, many people will walk into supermarkets to find that their customary brand of beer or soft drinks is either not available in its customary container or not available at all. If experience is any guide, the first realization of the "Bottle Bill" for thousands of people will be in the frustration of the missing beverage.

There will be other noticeable changes in patterns. The grocery clerks will have the extra chore of dealing with great volumes of returning bottles. The sorting process will take weeks to get established. The readjustments for the grocers and the distributors will be of a much larger, more costly dimension than those of the customer.

Will it be worth it? There will be varying opinion. But this much is certain. In a very small but very visual area of society, a great reversal has been made. The no-deposit, no-return container was the epitome of "planned obsolescence" -- planned to be used only once, and junked.

In this one area, the public, through its elected representatives, has said this is the highwater mark of the "throw-away society." We will go no further. If we are to preserve the resources of this planet, we must start recycling. And recycling the containers of beer and soft drinks is a reasonable place to start. These cans and bottles contribute heavily to the roadside litter. Many of these containers always have been returnable, so the switchover affirms an already existing pattern.

It should be recognized that the real significance of D-Day (D for Deposit) is the assumption of irritation and inconvenience in order to stop the useless throwing away of irreplaceable resource.

The 2-cent or the 5-cent deposit is but a small downpayment on a larger bill. Sooner or later, people will be compelled to the face up to the much larger cost of living within this planet's means.

But tomorrow, here in Oregon, the public will be taking a first, significant step.

"D-Day (for Deposit) is Sunday for Bottle Bill," editorial (September 30, 1972). Salem, Oregon: Oregon Statesman. Sec.1:4.