When the Minneapolis-based conservation group offered the tenth graders at the school ten cents for every can and bottle the school could collect (with a top end limit of 10,000), the students went into overdrive. Within one month they collected more then enough to receive the full donation that the group had to offer.
The Conservation Minnesota challenge was put up to draw attention to the fact that currently only 35 percent of cans and bottles in Minnesota are being recycled. But in nearby states like Iowa and Michigan where bottle and can deposits are in place, the recycling rates are over 85 percent. At Conservation Minnesota’s urging, the Minnesota legislature is currently working with the Pollution Control Agency to come up with a plan for increasing the state’s recycling percentages.
One idea the group hopes the state considers is a Recycle Refund which would place a deposit on all cans and bottles that are ultimately redeemed. The consumer could easily return the containers to get their own money back, or they could donate the cans and bottles to drives like this which would allow schools and civic groups to raise money while helping keep cans and bottles out of the waste stream.
“The Recycling Refund is a very effective way to encourage increases in the state’s recycling rate,” said Conservation Minnesota Executive Director Paul Austin. “If we were to go the route of Iowa and Michigan, as this demonstration showed, we could increase our recycling rate and create a whole new fundraising opportunity.”