Beverage Container Deposits
Comprehensive recycling programs are one of the best mechanisms for helping the environment. However, instead of expanding these programs, some critics instead support mandatory deposit programs or “bottle bills.” When it comes to bottle bills, however, three decades of data and practical experience have undeniably demonstrated that imposing mandatory deposits on beverage containers is a poor way to increase recycling and address solid waste issues.
The Drawbacks of Mandatory Deposits
Deposit systems simply don’t work as advertised. They are a misguided policy choice because they:
- Cost much more than comprehensive recycling or litter control programs, which accomplish the same goals
- Penalize and hinder more efficient recycling programs
- Are inconvenient, particularly compared to curbside recycling programs
- Do little to help the environment as they target such a small part of the waste stream
- Create new environmental burdens from increased fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to return and collect containers
- Impose a hidden, regressive tax on consumers in the form of higher prices
Comprehensive recycling programs provide systems through which households can easily recycle a wide range of materials. Through these programs, households can recycle through curbside pickup or, in smaller communities, drop-off programs. These programs often include an educational component to encourage and build participation.
We know that comprehensive recycling programs are the best way to capture waste conveniently, efficiently and equitably. These programs have expanded rapidly and are extremely popular with citizens and businesses alike for one good reason—they work.
Below are reasons as to why we have seen such a negative reaction to the taxing of beverage:
Taxing beverages, or any food item, is a poor way for governments to increase revenue, especially in tough economic times.
Unpopular – The public views beverage taxes as a tax on food. Even if the taxes are imposed directly on businesses, surveys show that 95 percent of consumers believe they will ultimately bear the burden of beverage taxes, passed on to them by producers and retailers.
- Regressive – Beverage taxes hurt low-income consumers significantly more than others because it raises the price of groceries, which is most harmful to those on fixed incomes. As a result, those least able to afford beverage taxes bear the greatest burden.
- Unfair – Beverage manufacturers and bottlers already pay their fair share of business and other taxes, generating more than $55 billion in revenue annually for federal, state and local governments.
- Anti-business – Beverage taxes raise the cost of doing business, not just for beverage companies, but for their suppliers and retail customers as well. Higher costs reduce reinvestment and job growth – a critical consideration given that the beverage industry directly or indirectly supports nearly 3 million American jobs and $112 billion in wages and salaries.