April 22, 2001 11:00 pm

We can make bottle

bill more effective

Oregons bottle bill, spearheaded by environmentally conscious former Gov. Tom McCall, is 30 years old this year.

By the way things look along the roadsides and byways of our state, the bottle bill has done an excellent job.

The law, passed in 1971, requires a cash deposit on all soda, beer and carbonated-drink containers. Oregonians dutifully pay a 5-cent deposit on cans and plastic soda bottles. They round these up every month or so and return them to the supermarket for a refund. The bottle bill is one of Oregons hallmark pieces of environmental legislation.

At the 30-year celebration of something that has worked effectively, its time to take a look at the bill to make it better.

Some questions:

Oregonians have become less diligent about returning the empty containers. Under inflation, a 5-cent deposit in 1971 would now translate to about 22 cents. Should we look at raising the deposit to something more than 5 cents, with a portion going to the retailers for their efforts in handling the bottles and cans.

Supermarket operators often are annoyed with the contaminated condition of bottles and cans that are brought in for redemption. Should consumers be required to clean their containers before they will be accepted?

Are we missing out on an opportunity to make Oregon an even cleaner place by expanding the deposit to other drink containers? Some of the non-deposit, non-carbonated bottles are ending up along our highways. Is it time to add a deposit to water, fruit juice or wine bottles?

The bottle bill not only has helped clean up Oregons environment, but has helped foster a positive attitude toward recycling. We need to take a fresh look at this important piece of legislation, and make it even better for the next 30 years.

Slow down, please

A man who held up a sign in Medford warning motorists that there was a speed trap ahead is facing charges.

Mark Wyatt, 39, has been cited for obstructing governmental administration. He was released on $4,000 bail after being arrested April 13 for advising motorists with his sign that a police saturation patrol was in place.

While we dont know all the particulars of the case, it strikes us as peculiar that a persons right to express himself is being denied.

Isnt the goal of police patrols to slow down motorists? Pulling people over and issuing tickets is one way to accomplish that. Wyatts speed trap sign is another.

Officers might just as easily view Wyatt as a friend of law enforcement, rather than an enemy.