I wish to clarify the position of the Bottle Bill Initiative Campaign regarding the new glass recycling program at churches {"Bottle Feud Taps Churches," Metro, July 6} and its relation to Initiative 28.

Although this pilot program is funded and directed by the Glass Packaging Institute (the largest contributor to the anti-28 campaign), it is inaccurate to suggest that we believe participating churches have anything but honorable intentions. We applaud them for taking part in this community service. Prior to this time, there was no glass recycling in the District.

But despite beverage industry denials, the effort is obviously related to Initiative 28. GPI's planning for this project began well after the bottle bill campaign had begun, and similar scenarios have been played out when container deposits have been considered by other cities and states. They claim they are "doing something" about the problems created by the throwaways they produce. They are actually doing little more than public relations.

Through the GPI project, a small fraction of glass may be collected. By contrast, bottle bills result in the recyling of 90 percent of all glass, metal and plastic beverage containers. If passed, Initiative 28 will provide the incentive and convenience to create a truly large-scale recycling industry in D.C., bringing hundreds of new jobs and businesses to our city.

In spite of its claims, GPI's project will have no impact on our litter problem. It clearly provides no incentive to stop careless littering. But making all bottles and cans refundable will give people reason to stop littering. Even if they do litter, enterprising kids will pick containers up for the refund.

As for the sincerity of the Glass Packaging Institute, its pilot glass-recycling program is scheduled to end the month the bottle bill goes into effect if voters pass Initiative 28 this November. Is this just coincidence?


Director, Bottle Bill Initiative Campaign


Terence Lynch, in "Bottle Feud Taps Churches," criticizes the church-sponsored, experimental glass-recycling program "as an effort by the bottling industry to co-opt churches, and particularly an effort aimed at the black community to make {the bottle bill} something of a racial issue" and "as unrelated to the social justice mission of church." Mr. Lynch is either confused or his racism is showing.

The bottle bill is about deposits on some bottle containers, which would be refunded when the bottles are returned. The Glass Recycling Project is a specific effort to clean up the city, which is directly related to the much larger issue of what we should do with our waste. We don't want a barge of waste floating in the Potomac River. The creative handling of waste for the re-use of the God-given resources of the earth is a valid social justice mission of the church.

Community support for waste recycling is being tested in the Glass Recycling Program, and the response has been overwhelming. The alliance between the church and the private sector needs to be explored where there are common interests in meeting human and community needs. The Glass Recycling Program is a rare win-win effort. It will clean the streets, and the lots, of glass, demonstrate the community support and industrial value of waste recycling, greatly reduce the litter in our city, and return resources to the community in college scholarships.

The churches that have developed an effective, community-supported Glass Recycling Program are predominately black. It is regrettable if this fact is so disturbing to Mr. Lynch that he would make false and unfounded charges against black churches and pastors. He owes the black churches an apology.


Executive Director

Council of Churches of Greater Washington