Mandatory deposit laws have played an important role in addressing litter and promoting recycling of beverage containers. However, many of these laws in the United States were enacted decades ago and have not kept up with an ever-changing packaging and distribution landscape, and in some cases have plateaued or even backtracked in terms of materials returned and redeemed. Today, many deposit laws arbitrarily exclude certain beverage containers, set fees that do not reflect the true costs of handling packaging materials, often lack sufficient controls to mitigate potential abuse, and can create unnecessary additional administrative costs. In addition, the money from unclaimed deposits in some states is not used to strengthen the state’s recycling and collection infrastructure, but is rather used to fund unrelated state expenditures. As a result of these shortcomings, too many materials that should be recycled still end up in the waste stream, rather than managed as a valuable resource. Much of this waste, or resource as we call it, is in demand among manufacturers – our company included – as raw material for everything from packaging to textiles.
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