County governments in the Washington metropolitan area continue to encounter difficulty in drafting laws to deal with throwaway beverage containers.
Fairfax and Loudoun counties will not appeal a Virginia Supreme Court decision that struck down the counties' laws against the sale of no-deposit, throwaway soft-drink containers.
On Monday, supervisors in both counties decided they had no ammunition left with which to defend the deposit laws -- the only ones in the metropolitan area -- which had been set up to control litter.
Meanwhile, the Montgomery County Council has once again decided to delay for a year implementation of its deposit law prohibiting the sale of no-deposit, throwaway soft-drink containers.
The Aug. 28 decision affecting Fairfax and Loudoun means that no-deposit, throwaway soft drink containers can immediately be put back on store shelves. Some stores will continue to offer consumers a choice of throwaway bottles and cans or returnable bottles.
In Fairfax Supervisor Sandra L. Duckworth (D-Mount Vernon) introduced the motion to be appeal the court decision. After the motion passed 5-0, with four members abstaining, Chairman John F. Herrity, a Republicans who has been a critic of the 2-year-old Fairfax ordinance, said:
"From this day forward, Fairfax ceases to be an island of returnables in a sea of throwaways."
Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville), a strong supporter of the deposit law, remained hopeful. "We have no alternative but to repeal this ordinance. But environmentalists in this state are not going to rest easy. The (statewide) battle is not over."
Staffs in both Fairfax and Loudoun had said an appeal of the Supreme Court decision was hopeless.
In its decision, the court said localities do not have the authority to pass deposit laws covering soft-drink containers.
In a related decision, the court ruled that no locality could pass deposit laws covering beer containers. The Loudoun board had sought such a law.