Fort Mill Times

Our editorial view: Lake Wylie students lead S.C. to bottle bill

Sometimes it takes young, fresh minds to revitalize something as important as protecting the environment.

York County Collection & Recycling Centers began urging residents to rethink recycling late last summer. So it couldn’t be more timely that Oakridge Middle School’s robotics team members’ are drafting their own proposal for a statewide bottle deposit law.

Recycling, of course, is good for the environment. It definitely helps reduce litter, and Lake Wylie could use it. Danielle and Jay Schoolmeesters of Lake Wylie set up a garbage can in August under the No Littering sign on Rufus Ratchford Road, frustrated with the endless trash discarded along their roadway.

Nathan Nishimuta with Boy Scout Troop 333 wrote a letter to the editor a few weeks ago following the Scouts’ Adopt-A-Highway cleanup on Charlotte Highway. He pleaded for people to stop trashing roadways, writing “Please stop throwing trash outside because every time you throw your trash out the window you are hurting yourself and the world you live in.”

Recycling helps stave off the need for more landfills, especially in York County where business and residential growth is booming.

But recycling also is economically smart. It creates jobs and has a $13 billion annual impact on South Carolina’s economy.

Starting April 4, York County residents will be asked to deliver glass bottles and jars separately for recycling as vendors will no longer accept mixed recyclables.

The middle school robotics team won first place for their research of the “bottle bill” idea that was part of their First Lego League Challenge robotics competition.

Now they’re putting research into action. The middle schoolers are teaming up with state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, to see their legislative proposal for a 5-cent rebate for cans (and we hope bottles and plastic beverage containers) written and introduced in the General Assembly. Once the proposal is finished, the students have been invited to witness the first reading in Columbia.

There are 10 states with varying bottle bills in the U.S. enacted as far back at 1972, according to bottlebill.org/. There’s plenty of research and enough time to create similarly successful plans.

A bottle deposit law can seem a nuisance, but it does create financial incentives and a cleaner world.

South Carolina is a beautiful place. After all the state motto is "Animis Opibusque Parati,” meaning Prepared in Mind and Resources.

We applaud these young students for taking action to protect our resources and urging our state legislators to take action for the future.

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