A Bottle Bill, also referred to as a container deposit law, is a mandatory refundable deposit on beverage containers aimed to ensure the return of containers subject to further recycling. Deposit systems are rather beneficial while they help to reduce litter and converse energy and resources. Other advantages include job creation benefits and waste diversion, more responsibility of producers and consumers, financial incentives for recycling, promotion of curbside recycling, production of high-quality recyclable materials, and creating more opportunities for recycling.
Mostly, bottle bills are vital for promoting recycling, preventing litter, and reducing waste. Oregon and Vermont were the first states that succeeded in securing mandatory refundable deposits on beverage containers that are thrown away. Further on, the practice was successfully disseminated on other states. Bottle bills were enacted in 10 states by 1986. So far, the nationwide studies have indicated that passing bottle bills in seven states helped to reduce litter in beverage containers from 69% to 84%, while total reduction of litter ranged from 30% to 65%. According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB) Litter Survey (2009), as many as 51.2 billion pieces of litter were deposited on roadways, out of which 30 percent was plastic, glass, and metal. At that, beverage container litter comprised mere 2.7%. According to the American Beverage Association Northeast (2010), littered beverage containers made up 6.4% in Vermont, 5.6% in Maine, and 7.9% in New Hampshire. Comparatively, these deposit law states have shown lower rates of container litter. Consequently, bottle bills ensure that states show advanced rates of materials recovery. The trend is rather beneficial to the ecosystem as it reduces litter, and facilitates recycling industry. Higher recovery rates assume more recycling, which eliminates resource depletion by manufacturing (Container Recycling Institute, 2015).
By all accounts, container deposit laws are subject to further expansion for recycling benefits the creation of new jobs in recycling and manufacturing industries. The US companies processing paper, rubber, electronics, metals, textiles, glass and plastic account for 137,000 active jobs. Their overall revenue amounts to a staggering USD 32 b. As estimated, further increase of a nationwide recycling rate to 75 percent by 2030 will safeguard the creation of 1.5 million of new jobs (Nash-Hoff, 2015).
As for now, however, nearly 50% of the U.S. population lacks access to curbside recycling, including such essential materials newspapers, cans, and bottles. The international practice in Canada and Europe makes companies pay to collect the materials from households, whereas in the United States companies refuse to accept such responsibility. Unfortunately, many US companies are opposing container deposit legislation that is operative only in 10 states (Nash-Hoff, 2015).
Further expansion of packaging recycling rates will help to establish a circular economy wherein raw materials will be processed for many times to benefit manufacturing and other industries. This will secure enhanced resource efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Eventually, the economy will become less reliant on nonrenewable natural resources. Overall, in the foreseeable future more states in the U.S. should adopt bottle bills to increase the domestic supply of recycled PET beverage containers and decrease selling to China to become less dependent on recycled PET imports (Nash-Hoff, 2015).
- Container Recycling Institute (April 2015) Estimating Beverage Container Litter Quantities and Cleanup Costs in Michigan, retrieved September 26, 2018 from http://www.bottlebill.org/assets/pdfs/benefits/MichiganLitterCleanupCosts%20FINAL%20April2015.pdf
- Nash-Hoff, M. (2015). “Why Are There So Few States with ‘Bottle Bill’ Laws?” Industry Week, , retrieved September 26, 2018 from https://www.industryweek.com/regulations/why-are-there-so-few-states-bottle-bill-laws