Impacts of Beverage Container Deposit Laws on Local Recycling Programs (National Soft Drink Association)

The National Soft Drink Association (NSDA) contracted with GBB to evaluate the economic and operational impacts of container deposit legislation (Bottle Bills) on municipal recycling programs. Through field sorts of both waste and curbside recycling truckloads from two communities, one with container deposit legislation and one without container legislation, GBB developed detailed data on quantities of recyclables, capture rates in each stream, and the differences in each community’s waste stream composition.

In both communities, GBB created a sampling plan and followed set procedures for the physical sorting of both recyclable materials and trash samples. These sorts determined the total quantity of glass, cans, and other recyclables discarded in the trash, and the total quantity of glass, cans, and other recyclables put into the recycling program. Additionally, in the Bottle Bill community, GBB conducted a survey of 13,000 households to estimate the number of containers returned for redemption, and to obtain information about redemption habits and attitudes. After completing the sorts and redemption survey, GBB compiled and analyzed the data and evaluated and verified the separation efficiency of Bottle Bill vs. non-Bottle Bill communities; determined the quantity, composition, and capture rates of recyclables; compared the waste and recycling streams; and compared the operational costs and material revenues of both systems to determine the impact of Bottle Bills on municipal recycling programs. This very intense sort and analysis revealed useful information for evaluating container deposit impacts on local recycling programs, and shed new light on recycling recovery rates for all materials.