Have you ever wondered why some states offer you money back for recycling cans and bottles and others don’t? Well, this type of legislation is often referred to as a “Bottle Bill” and essentially works as a deposit on any bottle or can you purchase.
For those that are not aware of how this works, let me explain. Simply put, when you purchase a bottled or canned beverage, you are charged an additional fee known as a bottle deposit (typically only 5 or 10 cents).
The consumer can then recycle that can or bottle in a supermarket or recycling center to get that deposit back. As a result, a higher amount of cans and bottles get recycled instead of sitting on the side of the road or winding up in the ocean.
However, only 10 out of 50 states actually have a bottle bill in place.
What Positive Effects Does A Bottle Bill Have On A State?
So, let’s start with the most obvious benefit: litter control.
States that have a bottle bill in place see around 60% of all beverage containers recycled. In comparison, states without one, only recycle 24% of cans and bottles. That’s a 36% difference…who knew a nickel was so powerful?
However, you might think that people are flocking to deliver their cans to recycling centers, but the truth is that homeless individuals are the biggest benefactors. There is now an incentive for people to pick up cans and bottles off the side of a road.
And even more importantly, demand for recycled materials is increasing as companies look to lower their carbon footprint.
If the recycling rate is higher, the materials will be reused more frequently instead of ending up in a landfill. It’s also worth mentioning that the cost of waste management significantly decreases.
More people will bring in their own cans and bottles instead of waiting for a pickup.
So, Why Don’t More States Have A Bill In Place?
For many years, major corporations have lobbied against legislation from passing. And they have been very successful in avoiding it.
That’s because even though customers can get that money back, it still increases the overall price of a beverage. And while five cents may not sound like a lot, it adds up fast if you buy a 24 pack of soda ($1.20). And that’s on the low end.
For example, Maine and Vermont charge fifteen cents on alcoholic beverages. That’s ninety cents extra for a six-pack of beer.
Some of the main opponents of these types of legislation are beverage companies like Coca-Cola. It even resulted in the company being sued for deceptive sustainability claims, as opposing such legislation is not sustainable.
The good news is that states are beginning to move forward with more legislation. For instance, Florida is looking to create its own Bottle Bill and another eight states are currently working on their own.
While it’s not every state, it is a step in the right direction. As recycled material demand increases, more of these bottle bills are likely to pass.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.