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State Beverage Container Laws

State Beverage Container Deposit Laws

Jennifer Schultz and Brooke Oleen 8/14/2014

Beverage container deposit laws, or bottle bills, are designed to reduce litter and capture bottles, cans, and other containers for recycling. Ten states and Guam have a deposit-refund system for beverage containers. The chart below contains a citation and summary of each state law. Deposit amounts vary from two cents to 15 cents, depending on the type of beverage and volume of the container.

Legislation is currently pending in New Jersey (AB 1079/SB 1850). Four states – California, Massachusetts, Michigan and New York – are considering legislation to amend existing laws. Massachusetts voters will decide in November whether to expand the state's bottle bill to require deposits on containers for certain non-alcoholic and non-carbonated drinks. The measure would also increase handling fees and make other changes to the law. 

How Do Bottle Bills Work?

When a retailer buys beverages from a distributor, a deposit is paid to the distributor for each container purchased. The consumer pays the deposit to the retailer when buying the beverage, and receives a refund when the empty container is returned to a supermarket or other redemption center. The distributor then reimburses the retailer or redemption center the deposit amount for each container, plus an additional handling fee in most states. Unredeemed deposits are either returned to the state, retained by distributors, or used for program administration.

Please see the Energy and Environment Legislation Tracking Database for more information.

State Container Deposit Laws

State

Statute

Year

Summary

     

Deposit Amount

Beverages Covered

Containers Covered

Unredeemed Deposits

California

Cal. Public Resources Code §§14501 - 14599

1986

5¢ (˂24 oz.)

10¢ (≥24oz.)

Beer, malt, wine and distilled spirit coolers; all non-alcoholic beverages, except milk. Excludes vegetable juices over 16 oz.

Any container composed of aluminum, glass, plastic, or bi-metal; Exempts refillables

Property of program; Used for program administration

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. §§22a-243 – 22a-246

1978

Beer, malt, carbonated soft drinks, bottled water

Any sealed bottle, can, jar, or carton composed of glass, metal or plastic; Excludes containers over three liters containing non-carbonated beverages, and HDPE containers

Returned to the state

Hawaii

Hawaii Rev. Stat. §§342G-101 – 342G-122

2002

Beer, malt, mixed spirits and wine; all non-alcoholic drinks, except dairy products

Any container up to 68 oz. composed of aluminum, bi-metal, glass, or plastic

Property of state; Used for program administration

Iowa

Iowa Code §455C.1 – 455C.17

1978

Beer, wine coolers, wine, liquor, carbonated soft drinks, mineral water

Any sealed bottle, can, jar, or carton composed of glass, metal or plastic

Retained by distributor and bottlers

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 32, §§1861 - 1873

1976

15¢ (wine/liquor)

5¢ (all others)

All beverages except dairy products and unprocessed cider

Any sealed container of four liters or less composed of glass, metal or plastic

Property of state

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 94, §§321 - 327

1981

Beer, malt, carbonated soft drinks, mineral water

Any sealable bottle, can, jar, or carton composed of glass, metal, plastic, or a combination; Excludes biodegradables

Property of state general fund

Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws §§445.571 – 445.576

1976

10¢

Beer, wine coolers, canned cocktails, soft drinks, carbonated and mineral water

Any airtight container under one gallon composed of metal, glass, paper, or plastic

75% to state for environmental programs; 25% to retailers

New York

N.Y. Environmental Conservation Law §§27-1001 – 27-1019 (Amended 2013 SB 2608)

1982

Beer, malt, wine products, carbonated soft drinks, soda water, and water not containing sugar

Any sealed bottle, can, or jar less than one gallon composed of glass, metal, aluminum, steel, or plastic 

80% to the state general fund; 20% retained by distributor

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. §§459A.700 – 459A.740

1971

2¢ (standard refillable)

5¢ (all others)

Beer, malt, carbonated soft drinks, bottled water (will cover all beverages except wine, liquor, milk, and milk substitutes by 2018)

Any sealed bottle, can, or jar composed of glass, metal or plastic

Retained by distributor and bottlers

Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, §§1521 - 1529

1972

15¢ (liquor)

5¢ (all others)

Beer, malt, mixed wine, liquor, carbonated soft drinks

Any bottle, can, jar, or carton composed of glass, metal, paper, plastic, or a combination; Excludes biodegradables

Retained by distributor and bottlers

Guam

Guam Code §30-221

2010

Beer, ale, malt, mixed spirits, mixed wine, and all non-alcoholic beverages. Excludes milk, supplements, medicines

Any sealed glass, metal, or plastic container up to 64 oz.

Retained by EPA

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