Tuesday, a subcommittee in the Tennessee House of Representatives will continue its debate on the so-called “bottle bill.” The proposal would require a five-cent refundable deposit on beverages in aluminum cans or plastic and glass bottles.
Supporters say the measure would encourage recycling, reduce litter, and potentially create jobs. Those against the proposal, particularly the beverage industry, say it will create a burden on retailers. They argue a “redeemable deposit” is just another form of a tax – because it increases the price of drinks, and not every consumer will take empty containers to redemption centers to reclaim deposits.
Susan Collins touted the “bottle bill” before lawmakers last week. The Executive Director of California’s Container Recycling Institute says calling the deposit a tax is a stretch.
“There’s no question, it’s written into the law as a deposit, so you pay your 5 cents when you purchase your beverage and you get your 5 cents back when you turn in your container at the end for recycling, so it’s definitely not a tax.”
Collins acknowledges the state would rely on money from unredeemed deposits, along with the scrap value of containers, to fund redemption centers.
She estimates the value of beverage containers currently thrown in Tennessee’ landfills and littered along state highways to be around $50 million.
Collins says the eleven states with container deposit laws have dramatically increased their recycling rates.
The bottle bill is HB 3429 McDonald/SB 3469 Jackson.
Testifying before a House Government Operations subcommittee, Susan Collins explained the revenues behind a “bottle bill.”
“It does cost money to run the redemption centers, it does cost money to move the materials to market; the transportation of the empty beverage containers is a cost. There are also revenues of the system; anybody who doesn’t redeem their container – meaning those people who don’t turn it in for recycling, don’t get their nickel deposit back, that would be used as a resource for the program. Those unredeemed deposits would help fund the system as well the scrap value of the materials.”
These associations have lobbied against the “bottle bill”:
National Federation of Independent Business
Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association
Tennessee Scrap Recyclers Association