Container deposit legislation in the United States
There are ten 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. Efforts to pass container deposit legislation in 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.
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.
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.
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. 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 this money to fund other environmental programs. In California and Hawaii uncollected deposits are used to cover the administrative costs of the deposit program.
States with container deposits
- 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. 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). The recycling rate for beverage containers of all materials in 2011 was 82%. 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). 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.
- 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%. 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. Seventy-six percent redemption rate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Seventy-two point three percent redemption rate. 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. 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 of 1976. 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). 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.
- 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) Beverages include beer, malt beverages, soda, juice spritzers containing added water or sugar, wine product, 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. 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.
- Oregon (10¢), the Oregon Bottle Bill passed in 1971. Beverages covered include beer, malt, soda, bottled water, juice, coffee, kombucha, coconut water, ready-to-use mixers, nutritional supplements, smoothies, protein shakes, non-alcoholic wine, drinking vinegar, marijuana beverages, sports drinks, energy drinks and most other beverages. The only exceptions are for wine, liquor, dairy or plant-based milk, meal replacement beverages, and infant formula. Included are bottles, cans, or jars made of glass, metal, or plastic. Redemption rate has been as high as 94%, but dropped to 83% by 2005 and to 64.5% in 2015, the decline ultimately triggering a scheduled increase in the redemption value to 10¢ effective April 2017. Redemption limit per person, per day is 144 containers (50 containers for stores less than 5,000 sq ft (465 m2)).
- 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. Redemption rate is 85%.
- 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). 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.
Delaware has a non-refundable 4¢ tax per beverage container sold, which retailers must remit to the state monthly.
Washington State Late 1970s (5¢) aluminum can and (10¢) glass bottle return voted for and unanimously passed. Before implementation, state lawmakers repealed the law stating publicly that Washington State voters did not know what they had voted for. Mostly due to lobbying by large recycling companies not wanting to lose profits.
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. The Texas bottle bill did not gather enough votes.
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%. 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.
- Wasting and Recycling Trends: Conclusions from CRI's 2008 Beverage Market Data Analysis, Page 4
- "BottleBill.org - Bottle Bills Prevent Litter". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- Gitlitz, Jenny & Franklin, Pat. (2006) Container Recycling Institute. The 10 Cent Incentive to Recycle"
- State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection Bottle Bill FAQ
- California Beverage Container Recycling & Litter Reduction Act Archived November 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- California's Beverage Container Recycling & Litter Reduction Program FACT SHEET Archived November 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Notice: Biannual Report of Beverage Container Sales, Returns, Redemption, and Recycling Rates". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "BottleBill.org - The Connecticut Campaign". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "BottleBill.org - The CT bottle bill". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "House Bill". Capitol.hawaii.gov. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
- Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Department of Health, Chapter 282, Deposit Beverage Container Recycling Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine.
- REPORT TO THE TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE STATE OF HAWAII 2010 DEPOSIT BEVERAGE CONTAINER PROGRAM Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources Waste Management: The Deposit Law Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Table of Contents for Chapter 28: MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS OF BEVERAGE CONTAINERS". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- DEP. "Site Help - MassDEP". Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "BottleBill.org - The Massachusetts Deposit Law". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- DEP. "Site Help - MassDEP". Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Michigan Legislature". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- MICHIGAN BOTTLE DEPOSIT LAW FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- "New York's Bottle Bill". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- 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"). http://www.sla.ny.gov/definition-of-license-classes
- 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
- NEW YORK STATE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW ARTICLE 27— COLLECTION, TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL OF REFUSE AND OTHER SOLID WASTE Archived June 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "2018 Expansion FAQs" (PDF). Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "The Expanded Bottle Bill 2007: Legislation Added Water Bottles, Created Task Force" (PDF). State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2008.
- Pursinger, Geoff (July 29, 2016) [published online July 22]. "Oregon bottle redemption rate to double". Hillsboro Tribune. pp. A1, A4. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
- "Vermont Statutes Online". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "Bottlebill.org - Vermont bottle bill history". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "BottleBill.org - The Delaware Deposit Law". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- DELAWARE STATE SENATE 145th GENERAL ASSEMBLY SENATE BILL NO. 234
- "Retail Beverage Container License and Recycling Fee". State of Delaware. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Texas Bottle Bill 2011 Archived May 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Bill: SB 635 - 2nd Reading Amendment 6". Texas Legislature Online. May 25, 2011.
- "Ballot questions, 2 - Expand bottle bill, Mass". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Abel, David (November 4, 2014). "Bid to expand Mass. bottle law soundly rejected". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- Map with links to text of U.S. bottle bill laws, LawServer
- California's Bottle Bill
- Tennessee Bottle Bill Project
- Senator Jim Jefford's National Bottle Bill
- Hawaii Dept of Health Bottle Deposit Law Site
- Texas Bottle Bill
- Abstract: Congressional Research Service 93-114 ENR. "Bottle Bills and Curbside Recycling: Are They Compatible?"
- Congressional Research Service 93-114 ENR. "Bottle Bills and Curbside Recycling: Are They Compatible?"