Bottle Bill Resource Guide

2010: Three new proposals for Delaware deposit law

In 2010, proposals were made for changes to the Delaware deposit system: one which would keep the deposit program and use unredeemed deposits to fund food banks, one which would funnel unclaimed deposits into a free school breakfast program, and another that would dismantle the deposit program and impose a new tax.

Sadly for the bottle bill, the last bill was passed and signed by the governor on June 8. Customers and businesses will cease paying deposits on December 1, and the last refund will be issued February 1, 2011.


Repeal bill

Bill Number and Name Senate Bill 234 Bill text
Primary Sponsor McBride
Deposits Eliminates the deposit
Other Fees / Taxes 4¢ per container, paid by retailers to Delaware Recycling Fund

A new proposal threatens to do away with the deposit-return system in favor of fee-supported curbside recycling, less than a year after a repeal bill nearly put an end to Delaware's 26-year old bottle bill. The 2009 repeal bill passed the House and Senate but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Jack Markell, who explained that the bill did not propose any adequate alternatives to the bottle bill and did not move the state forward environmentally.

Early in 2010, Markell proposed an alternative of his own. Under his system, the 5¢ deposit currently in effect would be replaced over time with a non-refundable 2¢ fee used to fund curbside collection programs. The proposal was introduced (with a fee of 4¢ rather than 2¢) as Senate Bill 234 in April.

The bill is intended to make "Universal Recycling" a reality in Delaware, and contains many provisions relating to recycling in general. It establishes a Delaware Recycling Fund, which will be funded by the fees on beverage containers and used to administer the program and other programs intended to increase recycling and reduce landfilling.

Subsection §6057 relates specifically to beverage container recycling and is where most of the changes to the current deposit law can be found.

Effective December 1, 2010, eliminates the deposit on beverage containers and effectively ends the refund system by March 1, 2011. An amendment to the bill further clarified the dates by which certain aspects of the system were to be eliminated.

Requires retailers who sell beverages to register with the state. Beginning November 30, 2010, they shall then be required monthly to pay a 4¢ Recycling Fee to the Delaware Recycling Fund for every beverage container they sold in the previous month. This system is only in effect until December 1, 2014 or until the Recycling Fund reaches $22,000,000, whichever comes first.

The current law prohibits the sale of glass beverage containers that are not recyclable or refillable; the bill changes this requirement to include all beverage containers—"beverage container" being defined in the bill as "any airtight non-aluminous container containing less than 2 quarts of a beverage under pressure of carbonation."

Effective September 15, 2011, the bill takes responsibility for running recycling programs away from the government and instead places it in the hands of solid waste collection companies.

Establishes the Recycling Public Advisory Council, comprising members from government, the beverage, waste, and restaurant industries, and community groups. The function of the Council is to provide oversight and recommendations on all aspects of recycling in the state.

Creates the Recycling Grants and Low Interest Loan Program designed to help handlers of recyclables in implementing recycling programs "with an emphasis on single-stream collection" and increasing recycling of materials hitherto sent to landfills "with an emphasis on commercial waste." Program will be run by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, with input from the Recycling Public Advisory Council.

Sets goals for the diversion of more materials from landfills, with an ultimate goal of 85% total solid waste diversion, and a 60% diversion of municipal solid waste, by 2020. To accomplish these goals, the bill also sets up a system for reporting information about recycling rates and systems.

Amendments to SB 234

Throughout the legislative process, a number of amendments were proposed. Two minor Senate amendments were approved early on.

Amendment 1 makes several changes to the bill, including several that "provide local government’s flexibility in implementing the requirements of a universal curbside recycling program." Most significant to the existing deposit law, the bill removes §6057(b) on dates of liability changes. In its place, 2 sections are added at the end of the bill, one making the passed bill effective December 1, 2010. The other section then specifies that consumers may continue to return containers for a refund through January 31, 2011 and dealers may continue to return containers to distributors for a refund through February 28; after this, the exchange of beverage containers for refunds is effectively ended. Amendment 1 also changes the distribution of members of the Recycling Public Advisory Council: "One member representing the beverage industry" is changed to "one representing the Soft Drink Industry and one representing the Alcohol Beverage Industry;" also a member is added to represent the Delaware Food Industry Council. Amendment 3 adjusts some other numbers to reflect these changes.

On May 11, a flurry of House amendments were proposed and defeated before the bill was finally passed.

Some concerns have been raised about the constitutionality of the bill's passage, and, while the bill was signed on June 8, the House minority leader anticipates a lawsuit.

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Food bank bill

Bill Number and Name HB 307 Bill text
Primary Sponsor Oberle
Unredeemed Deposits Requires unclaimed deposits to be deposited into a "Food Bank Support Fund"

This bill establishes a Food Bank Support fund, to be operated by the Office of Management and Budget. Under current law, unredeemed deposits are kept by distributors. Under this bill, all unclaimed deposits shall be deposited in this fund and distributed to nonprofit food banks.

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School Breakfast Bill

Bill Number and Name House Bill 401 Bill text
Primary Sponsor Oberle
Unredeemed Deposits Escheat to Universal Breakfast Fund for school breakfasts.

Creates the Delaware Universal Breakfast Fund, which is intended to provide "a secure ongoing funding source for universal school breakfast in Delaware in order to provide a healthy breakfast to all students in public and charter schools, regardless of family income." The bill requires all schools to offer free breakfast to all students.


Markell's proposal (repeal bill)

January 5, 2010: Governor Markell announced "universal recycling" proposal

April 20, 2010: SB 234 introduced and referred to Natural Resources & Environmental Control Committee

April 29, 2010: Amendments 1 and 3 were added by Senate. Amendments 2 and 4 were stricken and defeated, respectively. Passed by Senate.

May 4, 2010: Introduced and Assigned to Natural Resources Committee in House

May 5, 2010: Reported favorably by committee

May 11, 2010: Passed House, transmitted to governor.

June 8, 2010: Signed by governor.


Food Bank Bill

January 14, 2010: Introduced and referred to House Health & Human Development Committee


School Breakfast Bill

May 19, 2010: Introduced and assigned to education committee

June 2, 2010: Amended and reported out of committee with a favorable report


Contact information for Governor Markell

Pat Todd
League of Women Voters of Delaware
1401 Pennsylvania Ave. #1204
Wilmington, DE 19806
Phone: 302-762-5995
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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