Proposed Legislation: Virginia Bottle Bill Legislation
Ten states currently have Bottle Bills, and none of them are the same. Oregon has a nice system Virginia can duplicate: BottleDrop: Oregon’s Bottle & Can Return Program (bottledropcenters.com) instead of reinventing the wheel. TOMRA has nice reports on the features that drive high redemption rates: White paper: 4 success factors in drink container recycling (tomra.com); Learnings from the World’s Highest-Performing Deposit Return Systems: TOMRA.
The most successful bills do share some things in common:
- A 10 cent or higher deposit on all beverage containers: beer, wine, liquor (including the small “nips”), soda, water (still and carbonated), fruit and vegetable juices, hard ciders, teas, sports drinks, coffee drinks, wellness and functional drinks, foil pouches and cartons (Tetra Paks) and milk. When Bottle Bills first started, they were aimed primarily at reducing litter, so they targeted just beer and soda. Bottled water wasn’t a thing then, which shows how hard it is to do a bill by kind of drink. But beverages are usually sold in aluminum cans, glass bottles, PET bottles #1, HDPE bottles #2, aseptic and paper cartons and foil pouches. We don’t care if your Kombucha comes in a bottle, can or carton, we want that container recycled.
- Easy returns at the point of sale and larger redemption centers for bulk returns. There are companies that sell Reverse Vending Machines (i.e.: Tomra) that are used at stores and redemption centers, plus drop off bagged returns and redemption centers for bulk returns. Oregon and Maine have nice return systems we can duplicate. There are companies (Clynk) that specialize in running deposit returns.
- System run by the distributors, not a new government agency.
- Return rate of 90%, with penalties for lower return rates.
- Funded by the uncollected deposits (estimated at $114 Million at 80% return) and not by a handling fee. Most states have the distributors pay a handling fee to the retailers to compensate for the extra work for returning containers.
- Most states keep at least a portion of the unclaimed deposits to fund environmental projects such as education and litter pickups. Since the primary aim of a deposit system is to have high redemption rates, any funds used elsewhere should be a secondary consideration.
Virginia Bottle Bill Organization is a 501(c)(3) entity.