Today Delegate Maggie McIntosh (chair of the Environmental Matters Committee) will announce that she is introducing a bottle bill for Maryland to the General Assembly. For those of us in the trash world, this is a very big deal. But it’s a big deal for all Marylanders, too!
A bottle bill, or container deposit, applies a refundable charge to every plastic, glass, and aluminum beverage container sold in the state (generally, milk products are excepted). Yes, your six-pack of beer will cost a few cents more at the store. But when you finish the beverage, you return the empty bottles to a recycling facility, and get that money back! There is no net cost to you.
There is a tremendous cost to uncontrolled trash, though. Both the Anacostia River and Baltimore Harbor are deemed “impaired” by trash under the Clean Water Act. Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Baltimore Counties, as well as Baltimore City, are under federal mandate to clean up the mess. Soon, all counties with stormwater permits will also have to address trash. Many of those solutions cost money.
Virtually all of those obligations could be met with this one law.
Beverage containers generally make up at least half of the trash in the Nash Run Trash Trap, maintained by the Anacostia Watershed Society. See this photo from last May, where the trash was sorted by category:
A refundable deposit on those containers will reduce that load to almost zero. People are significantly less inclined to litter when they know the container has value. Those that do “get loose” into the world are quickly picked up by people who cash it in–whether it’s youth groups, homeless individuals, or entrepreneurs.
Maryland currently recycles just 22% of these containers. Michigan, which has a 10-cent deposit, recycles 90%!
Container deposits create new jobs in the recycling sector, as people are needed to collect and sort the returned containers.
This is a very exciting proposal for Maryland, and we are delighted to be working with our friends at the Recycle for Real campaign and Chairwoman McIntosh on this opportunity.