Why No Bottle Deposit Laws?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said today that global warming is “unequivocal” and very likely “man-made.”  Panel members said that the situation is “a threat was not simply to the environment, but to international peace, prosperity and development.”  And the United States is the biggest emitter. With this issue on my mind, I’m wondering about something related and close to home:  why don’t all states have “Bottle Bills” that require a deposit for beverage containers like soda cans?    

A quick Google search shows that there is a heated debate about this issue.  The American Beverage Association will tell you that deposit laws have a big downside, particularly that they are expensive and ineffective.  Equally biased on the other side, the Container Recycling Institute will tell you that such criticisms are myths, and that deposit laws are extremely effective, especially when used in conjunction with other recycling programs, like curbside collections. 

I want to learn more about this topic, but it seems to me that the major downside for Bottle Bills is that they are a pain in butt and are more expensive to non-recyclers.  If you’re going to toss your cans in the trash, you’re not going to get your ten cents back. This personal investment leads to the biggest benefit of Bottle Bills:  they create a culture where people don’t throw bottles in the trash.  By requiring a deposit on each can, they ensure that everyone has some skin in the recycling game. 

I grew up in Michigan, where there is a ten-cent deposit on each aluminum can and plastic bottle sold.  No one ever throws cans and bottles in the trash in Michigan, because that is literally throwing money away. In Virginia, however, people rarely think twice about tossing soda cans.  More recycling bins have appeared over the years in offices and public places, but these are still the exception rather than the rule. 

Aluminum is one of the most cost-effective materials to recycle.  With reports like the International Panel on Climate Change telling us that conservation is becoming critically important, it’s time to take more drastic steps to promote recycling and environmentalism in general.  

Related links:http://www.ameribev.org/industry-issues/environment/deposits–taxes/index.aspxhttp://www.bottlebill.org/http://news.aol.com/world/story/_a/climate-report-spurs-call-for-change-now/n20070202150409990004http://www.harmony1.com/recycling/nonferrous.cfm 

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2 Comments »

  1. katynally said

    I’m from Connecticut and I recently learned that we are only one of 11 states that offer bottle refunds. In fact, our governor proposed to expand our bottle bill to include water bottles, as a means to augment our state’s funds. I also don’t see why more states don’t follow suit, because it is a source of money. I posted on this topic as well, you can check out my blog.

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