May 5, 2011
Efforts to Crush Bottle Bill Fail in Committee
The Legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee, made up of eight Republicans and five Democrats, voted unanimously on Monday, May 2, to keep Maine's bottle bill in place. They were united in opposition to weakening what is widely seen as a model beverage container redemption law that went into effect in Maine in 1976.
A bill attempting to completely overturn the bottle bill was withdrawn before it came up for consideration by the committee, but several other bills that would weaken the Maine bottle bill failed in committee. They rejected a bill that would have exempted wine bottles from the deposit system and voted to oppose provisions of another bill that would have reduced 15-cent deposits on wine bottles to five cents and exempted all bottles larger than 28 ounces from a deposit, including large Coke and Pepsi bottles.
The committee did embrace reducing fraud in the bottle redemption process. Beverages bought in New Hampshire, for example, have no bottle deposit but do carry the deposit amount for Maine. It is fraud to transport them into Maine to redeem a deposit that was never paid.
Maine is one of 10 states with a bottle and canned beverage redemption law, which supporters say is responsible for the approximately 90 percent recycling rate of beverage containers in the state. A 1979 effort to throw out the bottle bill through a referendum vote failed when 85 percent of the voters rejected it.