Container deposit legislation in the United States

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Deposit notice on a bottle sold in continental U.S. indicating the container's deposit value in various states; "CA CRV" means California Redemption Value

There are currently 11 states in the United States with container deposit legislation, popularly called "bottle bills" after the Oregon Bottle Bill, the first such legislation that was passed.[1] Efforts to pass container deposit legislation in the 39 states that do not have them are often politically contentious. The U.S. beverage container industry—including both the bottlers of water, soda, beer, and the owners of grocery stores, and convenience stores—often spends large amounts of money in the United States lobbying against the introduction of both new and amended beverage container deposit legislation.[citation needed]

Container deposit legislation (CDL) requires a refundable deposit on certain types of recyclable beverage containers in order to ensure an increased recycling rate. Studies show that beverage container legislation has reduced total roadside litter by between 30% and 64% in the states with bottle bills.[2]

Studies also show that the recycling rate for beverage containers is vastly increased with a bottle bill. The United States’ overall beverage container recycling rate is approximately 33%, while states with container deposit laws have a 70% average rate of beverage container recycling. Michigan’s recycling rate of 97% from 1990 to 2008 was the highest in the nation, as is its $0.10 deposit.[3]

Proponents of container deposit legislation have pointed to the small financial responsibilities of the states. Financing these programs are the responsibility of the beverage industry and consumers.[3] Producers are responsible for disposing of returned products, while consumers are responsible for collecting their refunds.

In Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, and Massachusetts the courts have ruled that unclaimed deposits are deemed abandoned by the public and are therefore property of the state. These states use these monies to fund other environmental programs. In California and Hawaii uncollected deposits are used to cover the administrative costs of the deposit program.[3][4]

States with container deposits[edit]

  • California (5¢; for bottles 24 U.S. fl oz (710 mL) or greater, 10¢), California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (AB 2020) implemented in 1987, last revision made October 2010.[5] Listed on containers as "California Redemption Value", or "CRV", or "CA Cash Refund" or similar notations. Beverages covered under the act are beer and malt beverages, distilled spirit coolers and wine coolers, and all non-alcoholic beverages except milk, 100 percent vegetable juice in containers larger than 16 ounces, and 100 percent fruit juice in containers 46 ounces or larger. Other notable beverage excluded from CRV are wine, distilled spirits, medical food and baby formula. Container types are aluminum, glass, plastic resins 1-7, bi-metals (exempts refillables).[6] The recycling rate for beverage containers of all materials in 2011 was 82%.[7] California imposes sales tax on the CRV if the beverage is taxable. The sales tax is not refunded to consumers upon redeeming the empty containers to a recycling center.
  • Connecticut (5¢), Beverage Container Deposit and Redemption Law 1980; not charged on milk (deposit on water bottles went into effect October 1, 2009).[8] Applies to beer, carbonated soft drinks (including mineral water and soda waters) and non-carbonated beverages, "noncarbonated beverages" means water, including flavored water, nutritionally enhanced water and any beverage that is identified through the use of letters, words or symbols on such beverage's product label as a type of water, but excluding juice and mineral water. Beverage container types include bottles, jars, or cartons made from glass, metal, or plastic bottles.[9]
  • Hawaii (5¢), Solid Waste Management Deposit Beverage Container Law (Act 176). Enacted in June 2002. In addition, Hawaii charges a nonrefundable 1¢ fee per container to fund the program. This fee increases to 1.5¢ if the redemption rate reaches 70%.[10] Containers of aluminum, bi-metal, glass, plastic (PETE and HDPE) up to 68 U.S. fl oz (2.01 L). All non-alcoholic beverage (excluding dairy), beer, malt, mixed spirits, and wine.[11] Seventy-six percent redemption rate.[12]
  • Iowa (5¢ for containers that held carbonated beverages), Beverage Container Deposit Law 1978. Beverages of beer, wine coolers, wine, liquor, soda, mineral water. Bottles, cans, jars, or cartons made of glass, plastic, or metal.[13]
  • Maine (5¢, also applies to fruit juice and bottled water; 15¢ for most liquor and wine bottles), Maine Returnable Beverage Container Law 1978. All potable liquids, except dairy and unprocessed cider. All glass, metal, or plastic containers 4 L (135 U.S. fl oz) or smaller.[14]
  • Massachusetts (5¢ for containers that held carbonated beverages), Beverage Container Recovery Law enacted in 1982. Beverages include beer, malt, soda, mineral water in jars, cartons, bottles, or cans made of glass, metal, plastic, or a combination.[15] Seventy-two point three percent redemption rate.[16] Expansion of the Massachusetts container law was proposed in 2010 by Gov. Deval Patrick, who included the expansion in his fiscal year 2010 budget to include a nickel deposit on water, juice, energy drink and sport drink containers not covered in the original law.[17] As of September 13, 2013, efforts were underway to update the Massachusetts Bottle Bill through a statewide ballot initiative.
  • Michigan (10¢ non-refillable, 10¢ refillable)—Michigan Beverage Container Act 1978. For beverages of beer, soda pop, carbonated and mineral water, wine coolers, canned cocktails. In containers made of metal, glass, paper, or plastic under 1 U.S. gal (3.79 L).[18] Ninety-seven percent redemption rate. Escheated deposits are divided as: 75% to State Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund, 25% returned to retailers. Redemption limit per person, per day, is $25 in deposits.[19]
  • New York (5¢), New York State Returnable Container Law 1982. For containers under one gallon, that held carbonated beverages or water (the law was amended to include water containers on October 31, 2009)[20] Beverages include beer, malt beverages, soda, juice spritzers containing added water or sugar, wine product,[21] and bottled water without added sugar. Hard cider and wine are exempt from the deposit, whether or not they are carbonated. Container types are metal, glass, paper, plastic or a combination under 1 U.S. gal (3.79 L). Overall redemption rates as of 2007 were 66%; 76% for beer, 56.6% for soda, and 64.7% for wine product. Redemption limit is 240 containers per person, per day, but this can be circumvented by notifying the business at least 48 hours in advance, in which case the business is compelled to take any amount.[22] As of March 2010, all business which sell beverages in beverages containers for consumption off site and are part of a chain of businesses of 10 or more under common ownership are required to install 3–8 reverse vending machines on their premises depending on area of the business.[23]
  • Oregon (5¢), the Oregon Bottle Bill. Beverages covered are beer, malt, soda, and bottled water. Included are bottles, cans, or jars made of glass, metal, or plastic bottles. Redemption rate is 83%. Redemption limit per person, per day is 144 containers (50 containers for stores less than 5,000 sq ft (465 m2)).[24]
  • Vermont (5¢; for most liquor bottles, 15¢), Beverage Container Law 1973. Includes beer, malt, soda, mixed wine drinks, liquor. Containers included are bottles, cans, jars, or cartons composed of glass, metal, paper, plastic, or a combination.[25] Redemption rate is 85%.[26]

Repealed legislation[edit]

  • Delaware (5¢), Beverage Container Regulation 1982 [Repealed in 2009]. Included beer, malt, ale, soft drinks, mineral water, soda water, and covered all containers under 2 U.S. qt (1.89 L) (with the exception of aluminum).[27] Container deposit legislation was repealed by Senate Bill 234. As of December 1, 2010, consumers no longer paid a deposit on containers; no refunds were paid after February 1, 2011.[28]

Delaware now has a non-refundable 4¢ tax per beverage container sold, which retailers must remit to the state monthly.[29]

Proposed legislation[edit]

Texas unsuccessfully attempted to introduce a bottle bill into legislation in 2011. The bill set a redemption goal of 75%, with a deposit rate of 10¢ for containers 24 U.S. fl oz (710 mL) or less, and 15¢ for larger containers. Beverages covered would have been: beer, malt, carbonated soft drinks, mineral water, wine, coffee, tea, juices, flavored waters, and non-carbonated waters (dairy products excluded). Containers made of glass, plastic or aluminum containing a beverage of 4 L (1.1 U.S. gal) or less would have been covered.[30] The Texas bottle bill did not gather enough votes.[31]

Tennessee had attempted to pass the Tennessee Bottle Bill in 2009 and 2010, which was projected to increase its recycling rate from 10% to 80%.

The Massachusetts legislature failed over several sessions to expand its bottle law to cover bottled water and sports drinks in line with its New England neighbors. Massachusetts environmental activists attempted a ballot petition in November, 2014. The bill failed 27% to 73%.[32] The beverage industry funded over 80% of a more than $9 million campaign, which outspent environmental groups by a margin of more than 6 to 1. The anti-bottle bill ads presented statistics that were shown to be false.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wasting and Recycling Trends: Conclusions from CRI’s 2008 Beverage Market Data Analysis, Page 4
  2. ^ Container Recycling Institute Links To Various Government Studies
  3. ^ a b c Gitlitz, Jenny & Franklin, Pat. (2006) Container Recycling Institute. The 10 Cent Incentive to Recycle”
  4. ^ State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection Bottle Bill FAQ
  5. ^ California Beverage Container Recycling & Litter Reduction Act
  6. ^ California’s Beverage Container Recycling & Litter Reduction Program FACT SHEET
  7. ^ California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery Biannual Report of Beverage Container Sales, Returns, Redemption,and Recycling Rates
  8. ^ Legislation - HB 6602
  9. ^ Bottle Bill Resource Guide: Connecticut
  10. ^ "House Bill". Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  11. ^ Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Department of Health, Chapter 282, Deposit Beverage Container Recycling
  13. ^ Iowa Department of Natural Resources Waste Management: The Deposit Law
  15. ^ Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Guide for Consumers to the Bottle Bill
  16. ^ Bottle Bill Resource Guide: Massachusetts
  17. ^ Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Bottle and Can Deposits
  18. ^ Michigan Legislature BEVERAGE CONTAINERS Initiated Law 1 of 1976
  20. ^ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  21. ^ Defined as a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as "wine coolers").
  22. ^ New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials BEVERAGE CONTAINER DEPOSIT AND REDEMPTION STATISTICS As Reported For The Period October 1, 2006 - September 30, 2007
  24. ^ State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality The Expanded Bottle Bill 2007 Legislation Added Water Bottles, Created Task Force
  25. ^ The Vermont Statutes Online Title 10: Conservation and Development Chapter 53: BEVERAGE CONTAINERS; DEPOSIT-REDEMPTION SYSTEM
  26. ^ Vermont Bottle Bill History
  27. ^ Bottle Bill Resource Guide: Delaware
  29. ^ "Retail Beverage Container License and Recycling Fee". State of Delaware. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  30. ^ Texas Bottle Bill 2011
  31. ^ "Bill: SB 635 - 2nd Reading Amendment 6". Texas Legislature Online. May 25, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Ballot questions, 2 - Expand bottle bill, Mass.". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  33. ^ Abel, David (November 4, 2014). "Bid to expand Mass. bottle law soundly rejected". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 

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