Beverage Container Deposit Laws Need to be Nationwide

Day 277 – It’s not a difficult concept to understand.

  1. When a retailer buys beverages from a distributor, a deposit is paid to the distributor for each container purchased.
  2. The consumer pays the deposit to the retailer when buying the beverage.
  3. The consumer receives a refund when the empty container is returned to a supermarket or other redemption center. 
  4. The distributor then reimburses the retailer or redemption center the deposit amount for each container, plus an additional handling fee in most states.
  5. Unredeemed deposits are either returned to the state, retained by distributors, or used for program administration.

The Can Manufacturers InstituteGlass Packaging Institute and National Association for PET Container Resources have come together to push the idea of a deposit program. The associations say deposit systems lead to higher recycling rates, as well as to better quality material.

“The organizations also say the increase in deposits can decrease litter, provide more pure material beneficial to each of the industries they represent and produce a resilient supply of material needed to make new beverage containers.” – Recycling Today

Ten states plus Guam participate in a deposit program and these programs are making a difference.

According to the Container Recycling Institute, in 2018, in the 10 states with deposit systems, recycling rates for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, glass bottles and aluminum beverage cans were 62 percent, 64 percent and 77 percent, respectively. That’s compared with countrywide recovery rates of 28 percent, 40 percent and 46 percent, respectively.” – Recycling Today

The can, glass and plastic companies want their containers back. The only way we can move from a single-use society to a circular economy is to get these highly recyclable materials back to those that can use them again. Otherwise, they will continue ending up in the landfill or incinerator.

Does your state have a deposit law?

Tomorrow, when sustainability and art collide.

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