Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Can I take my bottles and cans to a state with a bottle bill and get the refund there?

The very short answer is 'no'. The long answer is, in order to earn a refund, you must have paid a deposit first. The deposit-refund system is based on the idea that a bottle is bought in the state, the deposit is paid, and then the deposit is returned to the purchaser when the container is returned. Containers bought in another state cannot be returned for a refund because no deposit was originally paid in the state giving the refund. It is illegal to try to collect a refund on a bottle or can purchased in another state.

What should I do if I think a grocery store is not following the law regarding the redemption process?

Each state's law are a little different with regards to how and if stores must accept bottle returns. If you have a question, you should check with the organization that administers the deposit system in your state. Visit the legislation page to find contact information for the authorities in your particular location.

Why not put deposits on other recyclable containers? Why focus on beverages only?

There are a number of reasons why deposit laws are enacted specifically for beverage containers, including the nature of the product and its consumption patterns. Beverage containers make up the largest portion (over 80%) of all containers sold in the U.S. Unlike many containers for food and other products, beverage containers are more likely to be emptied away from home (at least 1/3 of all beverages sold, according to calculations by the American Beverage Association). These “on the go” containers are not captured by curbside collection programs, so the financial incentive of the deposit helps encourage consumers to return them to retailers for their refund. Unlike containers such as shampoo bottles and peanut butter and pickle jars, the contents are consumed in minutes, making the container particularly wasteful. They also comprise a large portion (40-60%) of litter, which can be reduced with a financial incentive to recycle.

I disapprove of bottle bills.

You're right, that's not a question! But it is an opinion that people occasionally express, for various reasons. Most of the time, these reasons are misinformed. Visit the page on Bottle Bill Myths and Facts to read rebuttals to the most common arguments against bottle bills.

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No time to read this whole website?

View the PowerPoint presentation instead. Container Deposit Legislation: Past, Present, Future provides a quick look at the most important facts about bottle bills. This presentation is also a great tool for activists needing to present information in support of a bottle bill.