Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Eleven Fiftieths

Eleven states have “bottle bills,” legislation requiring vendors to collect a deposit on each container they sell of soda pop, iced tea, energy drinks, etc. It basically mimics the old, voluntary system of recycling, where bottling companies would pay people to return glass bottles, for reuse.

When I was a kid, cheaper materials (aluminum, plastic) made the old system uneconomical. So environmentalists pushed through legislation in Oregon, and then elsewhere, to create government-mandated recycling systems.

Oregon’s legislature just passed a “sweeping revision” of the bill, upping the deposit amount from five cents to ten and expanding the program. John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute testified at a legislative hearing against the revision. According to Charles, bottle deposit recycling conflicts with curbside recycling, which Charles argues is far more efficient — or at least easier to use than lugging containers back to return centers, which are usually sticky, smelly, and. . . .

Well, Charles didn’t talk about the stink. One of my Washington State informers did.

You see, Washington not only lacks a bottle bill, such efforts fail with larger percentages each time one hits the state’s ballot. But the beverage containers sold in Washington have the same deposit/return guarantees as in Oregon. So some Washingtonians transport their in-state purchases — sans five-cent deposit — across the border for unearned returns.

You might think that fighting such cheating would be of more concern to Oregon lawmakers than making it even more lucrative to out-of-state profiteers.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Bob says:

    Not that I’m favor of returning the hostage to reclaim my ransom but . . . . couldn’t swear to this, but think here in NY the bar code will cause a reject if purchased out of state.

  2. Drik says:

    Totally the pervue of the states to do what they want in regards to this. Per the Constitution.

    Be easy enough to mandate state residency and have to flash a local license to get a return. Or any number of encumberances that ratchet up the inconvenience for the out of staters. Certainly the financial incentive makes more sense in a free society.

    Here in Georgia, the Trash Nazi’s in charge in Gwinnet County have instigated a $500 civil fine for wast management violations, including those who fail to “source separate residential recovered materials.”

    So if your kid slips an empty soda can into the regular trash, the Gwinnett Garbage Gestapo will be on your case and YOU VILL PEY!

    Wonder how these people get re-elected?

  3. Bill G says:

    “Wonder how these people get re-elected?”

    In heavily urban areas voting is very distracting, so rather than brush up on the candidate’s positions it’s easier to just vote the D.

  4. Paul Bartomioli says:

    @Bob: I live in CT. Had NY residents return stuff they bought in NY in CT.

    Problem in CT it is a “revenue stream.” Approximately 95% of bottles/cans are not returned. CT has passed laws to make those deposits state money.

  5. steve says:

    Curbside just doesn’t net the same results, best way to address fraud is a national deposit program, we certainly wouldn’t see an influx from Canada, they have deposits. Container deposit-refund programs reduce litter and recycle 70-95%, compared to curbside recycling around 30% or less. The 10 deposit states recycle more than the other 40 states combined. Deposits don’t conflict with curbside, some industry just likes curbside better because in that instance the cost is passed on to local government and consumers. Comment about CT is incorrect, their return rate is definately more than 70% at the lowest. Nearly all of New England has a deposit program, their return rates are all well above 70%, so the cross-border fraud issue is exaggerated. MI recently addressed the fraud issue by requiring a state specific bar code. MI 10 cent deposit also results in a 97% return rate. More info

  6. Lily says:

    Thanks for wiritng such an easy-to-understand article on this topic.

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