In response to the growing litter problem of the 1960s and 1970s, activists and policymakers in Oregon and Vermont fought successfully to secure mandatory refundable deposits on throwaway beverage containers. Encouraged by their success, advocates in dozens of other states campaigned for deposit laws, and by 1986, bottle bills were in place in 10 states.
Today, litter prevention is still a potent motivation for activists, although many bottle bill efforts are also being driven by the desire to increase recycling and promote producer responsibility. Government-funded studies conducted, pre and post-bottle bills, in seven states showed reductions in beverage container litter ranging from 69% to 84% and reductions in total litter ranging from 30% to 65%. More studies, described below, affirm 4 basic conclusions about bottle bills.
Beverage containers make up a large proportion of litter
- Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study Report. March 2021 - 2021
- Pennsylvania Litter Research Study - 2020
- Dutch Study on Caps - 2017
- Toronto Litter Report - 2016
- Michigan Litter Clean-Up Costs - 2015
- Virginia Adopt-a-Highway Report - 1998
- Kentucky Litter Survey - 1999
- Washington State Litter Study - 2000
- Virginia - Talkin' Trash - Middleburg litter Cleanup - 2004
- Tennessee - X Marks the Spot - 2006
- Maryland - The Trash that Enters Baltimore Harbor - 2007
- Worldwide - International Coastal Cleanup - 2010
States with bottle bills have less litter.
- Littered Bottles and Cans: Higher in Virginia Than in States with Bottle Bills - Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood Virginia - 2020
- The proportion of containers found in coastal debris surveys in states with CDL was approximately 40% lower than in states without CDL - 2018
- Results of litter studies in bottle bill states - 2008
- Reduced litter leads to reduced glass injuries - 1986
- Hawaii Coastal Cleanup Data and the Bottle Bill - 2008
Expanding existing bottle bills would reduce litter further.
- California - Litter Strategy - 2018
- California - NRDC Waste in Our Water - 2013
- Massachusetts - Worcester Litter Cleanup - 2003
- New York - The Scenic Hudson Great River Sweep - 2003
- Massachusetts - Charles River Cleanup - 2003
- New York - International Coastal Cleanup - 2003
- Massachusetts - Blackstone Valley Riverways Cleanup Day - 2007
- New York - Buried in Trash [pdf,692kb] - 2008
Other methods of litter prevention are less effective
- Litter Taxes - The Environmental Action Foundation.
- Don't Mess With Texas. Cleanup data suggests anti-litter campaigns are ineffective - 2005
- Litter Things Cost a Lot. Resource Recycling [PDF, 300KB] - 2005