Bottles litter the streets, clog stormwater drains, and pile up in the Inner Harbor and the Bay at large. Baltimore alone spends roughly $10million a year to clean up litter and implement control measures. Overall, Maryland is estimated to recycle only 22 percent of about 4 billion beverage containers sold annually. This compares poorly to the national recycling rate of 35 percent. Maryland House Delegate Maggie McIntosh has sponsored a bill titled “Recycle for Real” which would attempt to remedy the situation by instituting a 5 cent refundable deposit on drink containers. In other states that have a 5 cent refundable deposit, recycling rates go up to around 75 percent.
Strong opposition to the legislation comes from beverage distributors and merchants, who claim that it would jeopardize sales and employment. Since interstate competition would keep beverage prices from rising, the consumer would not incur the cost of the deposit, rather the cost would be shifted to beverage companies. Other arguments against the proposed bill claim that the bill will take away from recycling programs run by municipalities who offer single-stream curbsidepick-up and drop-off locations.
Proponents of the bottle bill argue that it would “reduce litter, create jobs, and that its costs are manageable” since the unclaimed deposits would be returned to redemption centers in the form of 3 cent handling fees.
**For a more detailed analysis of the impacts:University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center. (2011, Dec 15). 2011 Impact analysis of a beverage container deposit program in Maryland. Retrieved from http://www.abell.org/pubsitems/CD-Deposit_Program_Analysis-312.pdf