Kraft introduces 'green' bills

The Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore city councilman who has made the environment central to his agenda introduced a package of "green" bills yesterday - proposing a 10-cent deposit on bottles and cans and major tax breaks for owners of environmentally friendly homes.

Councilman James B. Kraft, who represents Southeast Baltimore, also reintroduced bills that would ban restaurants from using Styrofoam takeout containers and prohibit stores from bagging groceries and other goods in plastic.

"It's important to me because we have a real opportunity to change the way people live in Baltimore," Kraft said. "There's a real opportunity to create a Baltimore of the future."

One bill would require the city to collect trash on the day after a holiday, rather than its current policy of waiting until the next regularly scheduled collection day. Another would eliminate city property taxes for five years on homes that meet certain environmental standards.

Much of the legislation faces opposition from businesses, and it is not clear whether the Department of Public Works would embrace a change in its trash collection schedule.

Ellen Valentino of the Maryland Beverage Association - a group that represents beverage manufacturers - said imposing a 10-cent deposit on beverage containers would undermine the city's effort to increase participation in recycling programs.

Valentino said the deposit is added into the cost of the beverage so that consumers must bring the containers to a recycling center to reclaim the money.

"It's clearly going to make it more complicated and difficult for people to recycle," Valentino said. "Forced deposits are not good for citizens, not good for recycling and clearly turn into a regressive tax on the poor."

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