Pennsylvania farmers, tired of picking up glass bottles and aluminum cans from their crop fields and pastures, are again asking the legislature to place a deposit on these beverage containers. Lawmakers are resisting because of retailers' opposition and fear that such a move might put local curbside recycling programs out of business. But as we said when this issue first surfaced earlier this year, there's a middle ground that may help farmers and local recyclers.
Testifying before a legislative panel this past Monday, representatives of farm groups, the state agriculture department and food processors advanced what (for us) is a new argument - broken drink containers may be contaminating the food supply and killing animals as well.
Jim Cole of Furman Foods said his company had been forced to turn away loads of peas contaminated with broken glass. Charles Brosius, the state agriculture secretary, said that livestock deaths from eating broken glass or shredded aluminum are so common that farmers have their own slang for it: "hardware disease."