Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Deposits on beverage containers were used for many decades by the beverage industry to ensure the return of their refillable bottles. Deposits work because they provide a financial incentive to recycle and a disincentive to litter.

Bottle bills are unique from litter taxes or publicly funded recycling programs in that the money that the buyer pays is returned to them when they recycle the container.

Because of the financial benefit, consumers who would ordinarily trash or litter their empty beverage containers may be inspired to take them to a facility for recycling, knowing that they've already paid for the service and that is the only way to get back their money. Other consumers who do not find the deposit a great enough incentive might still discard their bottles and cans. But still others will take advantage of the law to scavenge the used containers and return them. Either way, litter and waste are reduced.

Furthermore, deposits place the cost of managing post-consumer beverage containers where it really belongs--on those who manufacture, sell and buy them. Whether they are landfilled, littered or recycled, there is a cost to managing 'used' beverage containers. Containers that are landfilled, littered, or recycled through municipal recycling programs represent a cost to government and taxpayers. The deposit system shifts those costs to producers and consumers of the containers. This is known as extended producer responsibility (EPR).

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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.