Bottle Bill Resource Guide

New Jersey Litter TaxMassachusetts Deposit Law

The state levies a tax on 15 categories of “litter-generating products” sold in New Jersey.

The litter tax (paid by manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers of these products) requires a government bureaucracy.

The revenue from the tax funds litter clean-ups and municipal recycling programs.

Consumers pay a 5-cent deposit on beer and carbonated beverage containers sold in Massachusetts. When they return the empty containers to stores or redemption centers they get their deposit back. The state keeps the unclaimed deposits, which go into the Clean Environment Fund.

The bottle bill is a prime example of producer responsibility.

There are no reported recycling rates for beverage containers in New Jersey, but the NJ DEP reports the following recycling rates in 2001:

  • Plastic Containers: 20.6%
  • Glass Containers: 53.2%
  • Aluminum Cans: 49.5%

Today, nearly 70% of the deposit containers sold in Massachusetts are returned for the refund and recycled, and CRI estimates that another 10% or more are recycled through curbside programs. Landfill space is saved, reducing costs for local governments and conserving energy and natural resources.

Despite millions of dollars spent on litter clean-ups, overall litter in New Jersey is close to the national average and urban street litter is 41% higher than the national average.

Litter clean-ups are a lot like mopping the floor while the toilet is overflowing.

The deposit law reduced total litter in Massachusetts by 30-35% and the incidence of glass-related lacerations in children fell by 60% during the year after implementation of the law. The refundable deposit provides a financial disincentive to litter. If the consumer chooses to toss the can or bottle, someone else will pick it up and redeem the deposit.

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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.