I first became aware of the Container Recycling Institute when I enrolled in a state certificate program for resource management and recycling. I was so impressed with CRI's mission that I pursued a volunteer opportunity with them. I am now happy to say that I am gainfully employed with the organization. It is such a rewarding experience to be working every day to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills and to educate others on the importance of closed loop recycling systems that decrease our dependence on virgin materials. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be doing something that I am passionate about!
As an environmental engineer specializing in water quality issues, I'm grateful to the CRI for its efforts to reduce the type of nonpoint source water pollution caused by hundreds of thousands of littered beverage containers. Stuff flows downhill. And the best proof of that comes after any major storm event in any major city, when plastic bottles, aluminum cans and other forms of litter get washed into storm drains and out into the public waterway. It's a serious and expensive issue, bad for the public image, and potentially harmful to wildlife. I've heard the argument that deposits aren't necessary because bottles and cans are a "minor portion" of the litter stream. Anyone who really believes that needs to join me in a stream or lakeshore cleanup.
Eight years ago, frustrated by low recycling rates and our appalling volume of litter (roughly half of it bottles and cans), I decided to renew the oft-defeated effort to make Tennessee the first Southern state with a refundable-deposit law. My husband, friends and numerous lawmakers said I was crazy: Pigs would fly before entrenched special interests would allow a "bottle bill" in the Volunteer State. Fortunately, that's not how the folks at CRI reacted. They said, "Great! Let us help. If you'll provide the grassroots organizing, local communications and legislative liaising, we'll provide the data, the comparative studies, the economic analyses, the stakeholder testimony and the national/global networking you'll need to pass your bill. " Today, eight years later, we're a getting closer to having a bill, and CRI is still arming us grassroots Davids with the information and guidance we need to eventually prevail against special-interest Goliaths. So that's why I'm a CRI fan: Not because they've won us a bottle bill (not yet, anyway); but because they've never stopped believing we'll get one eventually.