Several state lawmakers are pushing for a recycling bill they say could help Texas rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.
"In the state of Texas, we’re only recycling 24 percent of our beverage containers," said Patsy Gillham of Plastic Pollution Texas.
Texans bought a staggering 17 billion containers in 2006. Though some ended up in recycling centers, the vast majority ended up clogging landfills and waterways.
In Austin, there is a push for action. State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) is sponsoring a bill that would charge a deposit for every aluminum, glass or plastic beverage container sold in Texas.
"People come from states where they have deposit systems," said Mary Wood of Plastic Pollution Texas. "And they’re amazed that Texas doesn’t have this."
The measure is incentive-driven. When consumers purchase a beverage container, the state takes out a small deposit. When the container is recycled, consumers get their money back.
Houston resident Sara Weaver said she thinks the bill is a good idea.
"I know it’s a hard economy, but it definitely needs to be done," she said.
Texas is facing a widening budget shortfall. Supporters of the bill say a five cent deposit, for example, could help the state save hundreds of millions of dollars.
The bottle industry is opposed, fearing business would suffer. Other critics question the timing due to the current recession.
Still, support is out there.
"To get money back? Of course," said Houston resident Kecia Parker. "You know, a lot of people would be, I think, would want to do that."
State lawmakers are expected to take the issue up sometime during the next legislative session.