Advanced Disposal Fees (ADF's) have been considered in dozens of state legislatures in recent years as a means of generating funds to pay for the cost of disposing of certain products. Florida enacted an ADF in 1994 which generated an estimated $65 million to the state, but it did little to solve the problem of litter and waste. The ADF sunset in 1995, and Florida's citizens were left with 3 billion beer and soft drink containers that continue to be landfilled every year, and tens of millions that litter the state from Tallahassee to the Florida Keys.
The beverage and packaging industries will support an ADF as an alternative to a deposit law, but they can be expected to sabotage the law once it is passed. It happened in Florida, where an aggressive campaign for a beverage container deposit law was underway in the early 90's. The beverage and packaging industries opposed the bottle bill and proposed an ADF instead, claiming that it was a "better, more effective and more equitable solution to the problem of litter and waste."
In 1993, industry was successful in blocking the bottle bill that required a 5-cent refundable deposit on beer and soda cans and bottles in Florida. Their alternative proposal, ADF, was enacted one year later. The ADF placed a 1-cent fee or tax on all rigid and semi-rigid containers over 5 ounces made of glass, aluminum, plastic, steel, paperboard or a combination of materials such as aseptic drink boxes. The fee was raised to 2 cents in 1994.
The law was written so that any container type reaching a "sustained" recycling rate of 50% was exempted from the fee. Aluminum and steel cans were exempt at the outset, because, according to their industry representatives, they were being recycled at rates of 57% and 51% respectively. The glass and plastics industries negotiated a different threshold for their containers, and in 1994 glass was granted an exemption by achieving a 35% recycled content rate and PET and HDPE plastic bottles were exempted after achieving a 25% recycled content rate.
Florida ADF Timeline
|1990||Statewide grassroots bottle bill campaign led by Florida PIRG begins|
|1992||Bottle bill defeated in legislature|
|1993||ADF (1-cent) enacted|
|1994||ADF raised to 2 cents|
(January) 99% of all beer and soda containers are exempt from the law
|1995||(October) ADF sunsets|
A December 1994 survey by the Council on Packaging in the Environment (COPE) found that only 36 percent of Florida's residents knew that there was such a law. This was not surprising since the Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates that by January 1995, 99% of all beer and soft drink containers were exempt from the ADF. Florida's industry-endorsed ADF sunset in October 1995. Later that year the soft drink industry boasted that "NSDA (National Soft Drink Association) was successful in getting the Sunshine State to end its advanced disposal fee law", the very law that they had proposed instead of a bottle bill.
The ADF: A Design Failure
During the ADF debate in Florida in 1993 the Florida Public Interest Research Group (Florida PIRG) released a report described as "a public interest analysis of the proposed advanced disposal fee (ADF)." The report, The ADF: A Design Failure, identified the ADF as "a tax, the proceeds of which may or may not be used wisely to assist recycling efforts." It concluded that Florida's ADF:
• fails to provide consumers with convenient access to recycling and adequate incentives to recycle,
• burdens consumers with a new tax and creates a costly government bureaucracy,
• relieves industry from having to take responsibility for wasteful products and packaging, and
• fails to provide industry with sufficient incentives to modify its behavior in the interest of recycling.
1) FL Department of Revenue
2) 1403.7197 ADF program
3) FL Dept of Environmental Regulation