Lawmakers sure to tackle mandatory recycling bill this session

As the South Carolina General Assembly begins its work for the 2012 session, one bill that's almost certain to come up is a measure that would require bars and restaurants in the state to recycle their beverage containers.

Many restaurant operators say they're not against recycling, but it would be an added expense they'd have to pass along to their customers.

But one Grand Strand recycler a recycling requirement would actually save businesses money and be a job creator for the state.

Bistro 217 in Pawleys Island uses a recycling program for its glass products and employees there say, it works well.

"We have specific cans, exactly for all of our recyclables. They go in the cans, (recycling crews) come, they pick them up, it's that easy," said Bistro 217 hostess Nan Gorneto.

The owner of the company that handles Bistro 217's recycling says a state law to require recycling programs at all bars and restaurants could create up to 30 jobs at her firm alone.

But beyond that, the owner of Fisher Recycling Grand Strand says, by embracing recycling programs, Grand Strand bars and restaurants would be more attractive to tourists, most of whom already recycle household products back home.

"I know that not only would it bring them back, but I know they'd have more positive reviews and probably spend more money," said Fisher Recycling owner Kira Roff.

At the same time, it's the mandate part of the bill that has many bar and restaurant owners concerned.

The manager of the Dead Dog Saloon in Murrells Inlet says, he's all in favor of recycling. He just doesn't think the state should require it.

"We want to do our part, certainly, but it really needs to be affordable for us, and it's difficult for us to be mandated to do that," said Michael Campbell.

But Roff claims it's a common misconception that recycling programs cost businesses more money. She says bars and restaurants that recycle beverage containers send less waste to the landfill and end up saving dollars.

"They're actually paying me less to take the same amount of material away than they're paying for their dumpster," Roff said.

Roff cites a study by done by Clemson University in 2010 that projects a 12 percent annual growth rate for the state's recycling industry, producing 37,000 jobs over 5 years.

The recycling bill S. 461 passed in the Senate last year. It's been referred to the House Agriculture Committee for consideration this year.