Short on Cash, How Will Bottle Bills Help States?

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According to the Associated Press, states around the country are looking to gain additional revenue during this economic downturn through adding or expanding bottle bill laws.

In the past, efforts to expand the laws have been stonewalled by lawmakers who “say it’s an extra tax on consumers,” even though states desperately need revenue for programs being cut, such as general funds, recycling, environmental projects, education and healthcare.

Some are opposed to the increased taxes, because of current strains on consumer buying power. “What’s next? If the budget deficit isn’t fixed, will we bring all trash back to the store?” said Chris Flynn, president of the Massachusetts Food Association, which has been opposed to the bottle law.

However, many are optimistic, especially considering the environmental initiatives included in the upcoming stimulus package.

Do you think expanding bottle bills will help your state's revenue deficits? Photo: GroovyGreen.com

Do you think expanding bottle bills will help your state? Photo: GroovyGreen.com

How They Work

Bottle bills generally operate on the premise that consumers pay an extra nickel or dime on beverage containers and receive the deposit back when they return it for recycling. States collect money when bottles are not redeemed, netting them millions of dollars each year. One of the updates being sought in current bottle bills is to expand them to include bottled water, juice and sports drinks, since beverages like these were not as popular when the laws were initially drafted.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick claims his state could collect an extra $58 million for the 2010 budget through an expansion such as this. In New York, some reports say expanding the bill could bring in more than $218 million in revenue for the state.

Other states, including Connecticut, New York, Iowa and Michigan are also hoping to expand their existing deposit laws and hope to join Maine, California, Oregon and Hawaii in passing broader bottle bills.

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