Tennessee Bottle Bill

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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 Cash Redemption Value

The Tennessee Bottle Bill is citizen-proposed container-deposit recycling legislation, which if enacted, would require a five-cent deposit on beverage containers sold to consumers. Currently the recycling rate in Tennessee is approximately 10 percent and the enactment of a Tennessee Bottle Bill is projected to increase the recovery and recycling rate to 80 percent and recruit businesses into Tennessee, such as businesses that require the steady inputs of recycled plastic fibers from plastic beverage containers for the manufacturing of carpets.[1]

If enacted into law, Tennessee Bottle Bill legislation would apply deposits to aluminum cans, glass bottles and PET plastic bottles of up to two liters, while excluding milk, liquor and wine beverage containers, similar to the various beverage container laws already by enacted into law across the United States within eleven other states.

The primary components found in litter recovered during annual community clean-up days across Tennessee are repeatedly found to be discarded beverage containers (bottles and cans).

The main legislative opponents of enacting a Tennessee Bottle Bill are found among the members and lobbyists of beer, soft drink, beverage distributing, grocery store, and convenience store industry groups

During the last three years the three leading container trade groups (Aluminum Association, the Glass Packaging Institute, and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers) have changed their position and now support bottle bills because of the success of existing bottle bills.

US states with Container-deposit legislation[edit]

According to 2004 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, approximately 30% of the U.S. population currently reside in states or territories with existing container deposit laws.

These state laws vary as to the types of containers for which a deposit is required, but generally include glass, metal, and plastic beverage containers.[2]


Memphis, September 17, 2009: By a decisive vote of 10 to 1 (2 commissioners absent), the Shelby County Commission overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution supporting Tennessee's container-deposit bill. Thanks to Commissioner Steven J. Mulroy for sponsoring the resolution, and to the many people who presented at, attended, donated to or otherwise assisted with "Return to Returnables," a public forum on the legislation held on September 17, 2009 at the Agricenter International.

The Shelby County action brings to ten the number of county commissions that have so far voted on (and all endorsed) a resolution on the bill.[3]

The Rutherford County Commission’s Public Works Committee discussed the issue on January 12, 2010 without voting to recommend a resolution for the full 21-member commission to consider.[4]

Potential issues[edit]

One aspect of beverage recycling laws that has come into question is the illegal redemption from outside states. Michigan, which offers 10 cents for every can and bottle recycled, has faced issues of smuggling from neighboring states like Ohio, where consumers didn’t pay the deposit when purchased and are collecting money for recycling. None of Tennessee’s neighbor states currently have beverage deposit laws.

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