Several U.S. and State Legislatures Propose Changes to State Bottle Bills and Advocate for a National Bottle Bill
On February 11, 2020, Representative Alan Lowenthal of California and Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced the “Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2020.” The bill would enact nationwide extended producer responsibility for all packaging materials, minimum-recycled-content mandates for certain products, a national container deposit, single-use plastic product bans, a three-year pause on new virgin plastics production facilities, and more. The proposed legislation includes a national bottle bill, which would add a 10-cent deposit on all beverage containers, regardless of material type. Udall and Lowenthal stated that this bill serves as a model for states and local governments to use in crafting their own legislation regardless of whether the proposal is successful in Congress. Currently, only ten states have a container deposit law or “bottle bill.” Some of these states are also considering proposed legislation, which would change their existing bottle bills.
In California, a senate committee will soon hold hearings on Sen. Bob Wieckowski’s Senate Bill 372 that would pressure beverage manufacturers to help consumers recycle. Senate Bill 372 would also extend the Bottle Bill provisions to wine and liquor makers.
In Michigan, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced H.B. 5422–5425, which would update Michigan’s current bottle bill. This would be the first update to Michigan’s bottle bill since 1976. The proposed bill seeks to increase recycling rates and reduce fraud and abuse. According to the Executive Director of Michigan Recycling Coalition, the legislation would allocate funding to the counties, which could then use it to boost existing or create new municipal recycling programs. Moreover, H.B. 5424, would create enhanced criminal penalties for a distributor that violated the bottle deposit law with the intent to defraud and cheat.
In Massachusetts, H2881 and S452 seeks to include miniature containers that can hold 100 milliliters (specifically miniature liquor bottles) under the state’s existing “bottle bill” law, charging the same 5-cent deposit on their sale as other bottles. We will continue to monitor any developments.