Assembly Favors Adding Coolers to Recycling Law

Times Staff Writer

The Assembly on Wednesday narrowly approved a bill to add wine cooler bottles to the state's penny-per-container recycling law to help reduce litter along the highways.

Wine cooler bottles were exempted when the law originally passed last year because of intense industry opposition.

The industry backed down this year in exchange for a compromise that provides that wine cooler bottles will not be added until Jan. 1, 1990, and local governments will be prohibited from enacting stricter recycling ordinances.

Next Step in Senate

By a 56-20 vote, the lower house sent the bill, by Assemblyman Byron D. Sher (D-Palo Alto), to the Senate. The measure needed 54 votes for passage.

Sher said nearly 200 million wine coolers were sold in California last year, representing more than 8% of the market in glass beverage containers.

"This translates into roughly 50,000 tons of glass per year," he said, "most of which is presently taking up precious landfill space or littering our beaches and highways."

The state recycling law now applies to beer and soft drink aluminum cans and glass bottles only. The penny per container is paid by the distributors and can be passed on to consumers as part of the product's price. Consumers can get the penny back by returning the containers to recycling centers.

Picking on Industry

An opponent, Assemblyman William P. Baker (R-Danville), said: "Why not add all glass containers? We don't add baby food jars. We pick on our own wine industry."

Another foe, Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Hawthorne), suggested adding Styrofoam coffee cups, which he said would "outlive us and our children," and disposable diapers, which he charged are creating a "stinking mess" along the highways.

Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) said she was disappointed that Sher "cut a deal" with the wine industry and did not include cheap wine bottles in his bill.

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