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National "Bottle Bill" Legislation

 

NWRA POSITION

NWRA opposes implementation of national “Bottle Bill” legislation that places mandatory tax deposits on single-use plastic and aluminum beverage containers.

 

BACKGROUND

“Bottle Bills” present an economic and disruptive burden to both recycling markets and local taxpayers. Requiring consumers to transport and deposit their recyclables at collection facilities removes up to 50 percent of plastics and aluminum from recycling streams. This reduction in these valuable commodities increases curbside recycling costs for customers and municipalities. It may also threaten public and private recycling facilities, forcing them to cut jobs or shut down due to loss of revenue.

States instituted bottle bills as litter abatement programs before curbside recycling was initiated and now are used by just ten states as they are an inefficient method of managing post-use of the product. Furthermore, just because a container has been redeemed does not mean that it will be recycled and may still wind up in a landfill.

California’s biggest bottle redemption center chain, rePlanet, announced that it was ceasing operations in California and closing all 284 of its locations. Even with the support of funds from deposits, it was ultimately financially unsustainable. Consumers were redeeming only about half of the deposits that they paid and were instead utilizing their curbside recycling bins, which from a sustainability perspective is the better choice. Furthermore, curbside recycling provides efficiencies not enjoyed by container deposit redemption centers.

Delaware’s container deposit law was failing for years before they abandoned it in favor of curbside recycling. According to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the state’s recycling rate climbed from 32.6 percent under the bottle bill law to 44.5 percent in 2016 under curbside recycling.

It is also beneficial to compare container recycling rates for places that require deposits with those that do not. In New York City and Boston where there are state laws mandating container deposits, their container recycling rates are less than 20 percent and 25 percent respectively while Seattle and Austin have rates of 60 percent and 42 percent respectively despite their states not requiring deposits.

 

TALKING POINTS

  • “Bottle Bills” destabilize recycled commodities markets by limiting the amount of recycled plastics and aluminum in curbside streams, driving up the cost of producing recycled materials / products.
  • Curbside recycling has been demonstrated to be more effective than bottle bills when it comes to increasing recycling rates.
  • “Bottle Bills” do not generate markets for recyclables, which have already been negatively impacted by China’s import ban.

 

Updated January 2020.