Tennessee Bottle Bill

...your resources pertaining to pending Volunteer State beverage container anti-litter legislation, protection of Tennessee children from beverage container litter-related injuries, and spotlighting the Tennessee "pro-beverage container litter" politcal action committee money trees.


Massachusetts Sierra Club
"Industry Arguments" Fact Sheet

Read it. Learn it. Know it.

The Massachusetts Chapter Sierra Club Fact Sheet: Industry Arguments Against the Bottle Bill is really too good to pass up --- I have had one Northeast Tennessee representative to present these same "industry arguments" to me during a recent telephone conversation regarding the Tennessee 'bottle bill':

Massachusetts Chapter Sierra Club
Fact Sheet:
Industry Arguments Against the Bottle Bill

Since the Massachusetts Bottle Bill became law in 1982, dramatic changes have occurred in the beverage market. Sales of “new” beverages such as juices, iced tea, sport drinks, and bottled water have vastly increased. Because the Bottle Bill does not yet cover these drinks, millions of these containers wind up as litter or in our landfills and incinerators, costing cities and towns money in expensive disposal fees.

The public benefit from the bottle bill is clear – and support for it is as strong as ever! When opponents sponsored a ballot question to repeal the Massachusetts Bottle Bill, it was rejected 93% to 7%. Despite overwhelming public support, special-interest groups are opposed to it, and have spent enormous sums in trying to overturn or gut bottle bills throughout the USA. In Columbia, Missouri, bottlers outspent supporters at 10-to-1[i]. In Hawaii, the industry created a so-called “consumers” groups, entirely funded by the bottling industry.

CLAIM: The bottle bill is a tax on consumers.

The bottle bill is not a tax since deposits are 100% refundable. Those who do not redeem their containers make a voluntary choice not to do so, and therefore unclaimed deposits cannot be considered a tax.

CLAIM: We don’t need a bottle bill now that communities have curbside recycling programs.

States without bottle bills have only a 20-30% recycling rate, while states with a bottle bill typically have an 70+% rate.[ii]

FACT 2: The bottling industry perpetuates an incorrect assumption that states must choose between curbside programs and deposit laws. Recycling data proves that both systems are necessary. Beverages are purchased and consumed both at home – where curbside recycling can be effective – and also away-from-home for immediate consumption. Beverages consumed away from home can be captured with deposits, but are beyond the reach of curbside programs. Despite a tripling in the number of curbside programs in the U.S. from 1990-2000, the quantity of aluminum cans wasted increased from 554,000 to 691,000 tons a year, and the amount of PET beverage bottles landfilled and incinerated rose from 359,000 to 943,000 tons per year.[iii]

CLAIM: A Bottle Bill Update will hurt our economy

Updating the bottle bill will be good for the Massachusetts economy. Collecting the unclaimed deposits on the updated items will generate over $16 million[iv] annually to ensure funding for essential environmental programs – without imposing any new taxes. The updated bottle bill will save municipalities the cost of collecting and either recycling or disposing of these materials. Reductions in litter will reduce property damage and personal injury from broken glass and sharp metal cans. In addition, updating the bottle bill will create new jobs in the recycling and retail industries.

CLAIM: Updated bottle bill will increase the price of bottled beverages

Although 5¢ is added to the cost of a bottle or can when you buy the beverage, it is fully refunded when you return it! If you choose not to return it, the unclaimed deposit is used to fund litter reduction and recycling programs.

Donald Dowd, Vice President of Coca Cola of New England, stated "our prices pre-bottle bill and post-bottle bill are virtually the same."[v]

A study funded by the National Food Processors Association found that soda in Massachusetts “costs roughly the same as soda in New Hampshire …,” and concluded, “One could argue that . . . having a bottle bill does not increase beverage prices.”[vi]

CLAIM: Updating the bottle bill will create problems for shopkeepers

Massachusetts retailers and redemption centers already have well-established systems to handle deposit containers. Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) technology has already greatly reduced the amount of space retailers must use to satisfy their obligations under the bottle bill and this technology can easily adapt to any changes in the bottle deposit law. RVMs read container bar codes and electronically record the type of beverage containers returned. The machines can be re-programmed to deal with new containers under an updated bottle bill.

CLAIM: Updating the bottle bill harm municipal curbside recycling programs by removing valuable aluminum

The vast majority of the items included in the update are plastic and glass. It costs municipalities money to collect, process, and market recyclables. The savings to municipalities from removing these cumbersome, low-value materials from their recycling programs far exceeds the loss of revenue from sales of scrap aluminum. The purpose of municipal recycling programs is not to generate revenue but to provide an environmentally sound, cost-effective alternative to land filling and incineration.

CLAIM: There’s got to be a better way.

The most effective recycling programs in the world are comprised of curbside PLUS deposit. Systems that eliminate one or the other component are ineffective.

CLAIM: Sen. O'Leary's NJ-Style Litter Tax is more fair and will be more effective.

The bottlers' newest claim is that New Jersey's Litter Tax is better than the bottle bill. In reality, NJ environmentalists see this as a complete fabrication. The meager proceeds the proposed Litter Tax would barely amount to $25,000 per year for each city and town. This amount can not even begin to pay for cleanup, education, and other litter control programs. In New Jersey, litter is at an all-time high, and environmentalists are working to implement a Massachusetts-style Bottle Bill. Click here to read NJ Sierra Club's comments on Sen. O'Leary's proposal.

FACT 2: Until three years ago, the Clean Environment Fund (CEF) was the recipient of forfeited deposits. This fund - as well as hundreds of other dedicated funds - were dissolved by the State Legislature. Although still on the books, the CEF and all other dedicated funds like it cannot be reinstated without specific legislation to allow them. The O'Leary Litter Taxes "set aside" cannot be established.

CLAIM: Fraud will cause the bottlers to lose millions

FACT: Buying a beverage in another bottle-bill state - or a non bottle bill state like New Hampshire - and returning it in Massachusetts, is considered "fraud". While some bottlers are unwilling to specify just how many containers are fraudulently returned, others like Coca-Cola are beginning to use the most obvious method to eliminate it: different barcodes in bottle bill states. This low-cost method virtually eliminates fraud.

[i] Container Recycling Institute

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Container Recycling Institute

[v] Boston Globe Nov. 22, 1989

[vi] An Economic and Waste Management Analysis of Maine’s Bottle Deposit Legislation, by Dr. George Criner, Commissioned by the National Food Processors Association, University of Maine, 1991.


U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords:
National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act of 2003

U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, Vermont

November 17, 2003

Senator Jeffords' Floor Statement on the
National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act

Mr. President, like every loyal Red Sox fan, I believe that next season, my team will be victorious. I bring this same level of optimism to my efforts to reduce the amount of wasted resources and litter caused by discarded beverage containers.

I rise today to introduce the National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act of 2003, the Bottle Bill, convinced that this is our year. I have long been an advocate for increased recycling.

Vermont passed its Bottle Bill in 1972 when I was state Attorney General. In 1975, during my first Session as a Representative in the U.S. House, I introduced a national Bottle Bill, closely resembling Vermont's very successful example.

Last Congress, as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I convened the first Congressional hearing in many years on recycling, in which the Committee heard expert testimony on the merits of a national program to recycle beverage containers.

The reason that I continue to push this issue is simple – it makes sense. Beverage container recycling is one of the simplest ways to see a dramatic improvement in our environment. As this chart shows, 120 billion – let me repeat, 120 billion with a "B" – beverage containers were wasted by not being recycled in 2001.

If we could raise the nation's recycling rate to 80 percent, we would save the equivalent of 300 million barrels of oil over the next ten years and eliminate 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. States that have enacted bottle bills also have benefited by reducing road side litter by up to 84 percent.

These savings may sound unrealistic. But, in Vermont alone, recycling efforts in 2001 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 94,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent. That's equal to approximately two-thirds of all industrial carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion in Vermont and 4.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. To me, those savings sound remarkable.

Why a refundable deposit program? Thirty years of experience demonstrates that refundable deposit bottle bills are dramatically more effective than voluntary efforts. As this chart illustrates, the ten states that have implemented deposit laws recycle more containers than all of the other 40 states combined. While I applaud curbside and other voluntary recycling efforts, the 71 percent of Americans who live in non-bottle bill states account for only 28 percent of recycled beverage containers.

My bill, the National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act of 2003, strikes a balance between the wishes of industry, the authority of individual states, and the needs of a healthy environment. Unlike traditional bottle bills, this legislation would fully harness market incentives by setting an 80 percent recovery performance standard and allowing industry the freedom to design the most efficient deposit-return program to reach the standard. States that already have bottle bills will retain their authority to continue their programs in their own individual ways as long as they meet the national performance standard.

This past Saturday, November 15, 2003, was America Recycles Day in Vermont and across the country. Two years ago, to help commemorate the 2001 America Recycles Day, I participated in a public service announcement to raise awareness regarding the need to buy recycled goods. The importance of recycling deserves, however, more than a 30-second public service announcement and more than its own day on the calendar.

For it to work, recycling must be a commitment of all of ours each and every day of the year. Vermont's commitment to recycling has provided some impressive statistics. For example, in 2001, 31 percent of Vermont's municipal waste was diverted from landfills. That year, 13,260 tons of containers were recycled through soft drink and beer distributors and materials recovery facilities. The benefit of these programs is, of course, that they help keep our Green Mountains green.

I commend and thank Governor Jim Douglas for his many recent initiatives to encourage and improve the efficiency of recycling across Vermont. For example, under Governor Douglas' leadership, Vermont has implemented beverage container recycling programs at 20 state information centers. In the first phase, in less than two months, over 200 pounds of aluminum, glass, and plastic were recovered from 51,000 visitors passing through one such information center in Williston, Vermont.

And today, the U.S. Senate's other Vermonter, Patrick Leahy, joins me and Senators Joseph Lieberman, Daniel Akaka, and John Kerry as original cosponsors as I introduce the National Beverage Producer Responsibility Act of 2003.

Suggestion for Changing BSA Environmental Science Merit Badge Requirements

Being a Boy Scout during the 1970s, I recall earning the relatively new (at that period of time) Environmental Science merit badge as this merit badge was considered to be one of the silver-banded "required" merit badges that are necessary for boy scouts to earn during their advancement toward the highest Eagle (or Eagle Scout) rank bestowed on scouts by the Boy Scouts of America National Council. I recently went online to review the BSA Environmental Science merit badge requirements in light of the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project only to learn that there is strangely not any learning or definition tasks within the BSA Environmental Science merit badge requirements pertaining to either "bottle bill laws" or "container deposit laws", given that almost one-third of the U.S.population (including boy scouts earing the BSA Environmental Science merit badge) reside within states or territories that have existing beverage container deposit laws:
  1. Make a timeline of the history of environmental science in America. Identify the contribution made by the Boy Scouts of America to environmental science. Include dates, names of people or organizations, and important events.

  2. Define the following terms: population, community, ecosystem, biosphere, symbiosis, niche, habitat, conservation, threatened species, endangered species, extinction, pollution prevention, brownfield, ozone, watershed, airshed, nonpoint source, hybrid vehicle, fuel cell.

Perhaps even more surprising is the fact the current BSA Environmental Science merit badge requirements do not even specify "litter" anywhere within these merit badge requirements. But in all fairness to the Boy Scouts of America National Council, I have not read through the official BSA Environmental Science merit badge pamphlet in almost thiry years, so that the issue of litter may be addressed under other subject headers such as "pollution prevention" or "resource recovery".

A quick search of the internet also revealed the organizational process by which the Boy Scouts of American National Council reveiws suggestions for both changing existing merit badge requirements (e.g.: Environmental Science) and creating entirely new BSA merit badges:

The answer to the questions above is very basic. In either case, a letter should be written, enclosing the suggested requirements for the merit badge, or the suggested change.

In the case of a NEW merit badge, the letter should also contain a suggested design for the badge. However, you shouldn't expect a speedy reply. The Program Division receives more than 400 merit badge suggestions each year, and they don't act upon any of them for at least a year or two. Every two years, the Boy Scout Program Committee goes through the merit badge suggestions and recommends to the Program Group Director four or five merit badges; it then goes around to other parts of the Program Group for concurrence; and then finally, it goes to the Editorial Service to coordinate and compose the actual merit badge requirements. The BSA's National Executive Board decides if the badge will go or not based upon the Program Group's recommendation. The entire process takes about three to five years. On the other hand, if there are a lot of Scouts and Scouters that feel that this deserves a chance (by writing to National in support of the new merit badge) the process can go a little faster. Hope this helps out!

Bob Torkelson, of Woods Cross, Utah, was curious if the National Council published info from the advancement department about new MBs that were under consideration and ones that were rejected and why. He called the National office and was directed to Terry Lawson, the Director of Boy Scout Advancement, and staff representative to the committee that considers new Merit Badges.

Here some of the things Terry told him:
  • The committee that considers new MBs meets 3 times a year.

  • The new MBs need to promote a hobby or career interest and promote the aims of Scouting.

  • When submitting an idea, you need to include the rationale behind the idea, as well as potential sample requirements for the badge.

  • Nearly all of the ideas for new badges are turned down for one reason or another, very few get tabled for consideration. There are two reasons for this.
    • First, there are currently 121 MBs and instead of growing that number to 200 or 500 they want to keep it around 120, so if a new MB is considered another one is usually dropped. That total has remained fairly consistent for the past 20 years or more, ranging from a high of 124 to a low of 116. [...]

    • Second, it takes around $75,000 to introduce a new MB due to creating the badges themselves, printing of pamphlets, and updating and printing of the Requirement book.

Changes, of course, don't require as complicated a process, but it still can take years for a change to be approved.

The letter should be sent to the Director of the appropriate Program Division, or the Advancement Committee, at the BSA's National Office. The address is:

Director, Boy Scout Program Division
Director, Cub Scout Program Division
Director, Venturing Program Division
Advancement Committee, S209

Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079

link: Proposals for New or Revised Merit Badges, Cub Scout Sports Belt Loops and Pins, or other Advancement Requirements Changes

I would also like to read input here at the Tennessee Bottle Bill blog about this issue from the perspective of related Girl Scout merit/activities badges pertaining to Environmental Science...


Tennessee Recycling Coalition:
Bottle Bill "Fallout"

Over the past half year, there seems to be more than just a little "bottle bill fallout" by Keep Tennessee Befuddled affiliate members spilling out over the pages of the Tennessee Recycle Coalition newsletters - a direct result of the Summer 2005 edition of the TRC newsletter featuring the article “Container Deposit Legislation” by Dr. Marge Davis of Scenic Tennessee.

Keep Blount Beautiful volunteer Kristi Kell Falco presented the standard KTB propaganda against the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project (apparently Falco has not been keeping up with her bottle bill reading at the Congressional Research Service - see below article) to the extent that Falco is seeming parrotting the same anti-bottle bill message of Keep Knoxville Beautiful Executive Director Tom Slater.

The main difference between Slater and Falco: recent IRS Form 990s for the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Keep Knoxville Beautiful reveals that Slater was pulling in around $37,500 per year at KKB...

Tennessee Recycing Coalition Newsletter

TRC Board of Directors Meeting
May 17, 2005:

Bottle Bill failed TRC is being looked at to support and help get this to pass. It will be on the agenda again in about 8 months. We can put articles in the newsletter expressing all information. The pros and cons both need to be presented. Jack suggested that we stay abreast of all environmental issues so, TRC can gather the information both pros and cons to present to the membership, and have them vote to determine how TRC will proceed...

Tennessee Recycing Coalition Newsletter - Summer 2005
(article “Container Deposit Legislation” by Dr. Marge Davis of Scenic Tennessee)

Tennessee Recycing Coalition Newsletter - Fall 2005

(“TRC Message from the President” by Christina Treglia)
[regarding “fallout” to Dr. Marge Davis’ article in TRC Summer 2005 newsletter]

Tennessee Recycing Coalition Newsletter - Fall 2005
(“The Importance of Comprehensive Litter Prevention: Why the Bottle Bill Won’t Keep Tennessee Roadsides Clean”)
Editorial By Kristi Kell Falco - Keep Blount Beautiful

New 'Bottle Bill' Legislative Focus: HB 3350

I have recently received email from Dr. Marge Davis of the Scenic Tennessee and the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project web site concerning the new legislative focus of the state house version of the Tennessee 'Bottle Bill' --- the house sponsor is reportedly now directing all effort toward passing a single bill (HB 3350) through the S&L/Local Subcommittee.

It is my understanding that neither the state senate version SB 3616 or the state house version HB 3350 frees retail beverage container dealers in Tennessee from any legal requirement to operate beverage container redemption centers and this particular version of the Volunteer State 'Bottle Bill' should put to rest much (although not all) of the grocery and convenience store industry opposition to the enactment of Tennessee Bottle Bill legislation.

Volunteer to show your love for children --- write, email, and telephone your elected members serving within the Tennessee General Assembly and ask these folks to help protect children in Tennessee from glass lacerations with their enactment of the pending Tennessee Bottle Bill legislation!

Protect the Children: Injury Prevention Study of Glass Lacerations Among Philadelphia Children

Injury Prevention 1998;4:148-149
Reported incidence of injuries caused by street glass among urban children in Philadelphia

Martin A Makary

Objectives—First, to assess the incidence and cause of lacerations sustained by urban children from walking outdoors as well as to identify possible means of prevention. Second, to identify the type of health care sought after injury and to measure the extent of glass litter on the streets.

Setting—Children (18 years of age or younger) in the Ludlow community of Philadelphia.

Methods—A retrospective analysis of lacerations sustained while walking outdoors. A personal survey was conducted with 241 children on a door to door basis. Glass litter was measured by visual inspection of individual streets.

Results—Of 241 children, 83 (34%) had been cut at least once while walking outdoors. Of the 83, 62 were not wearing footwear at the time of injury. The majority of lacerations (86%) were caused by broken glass. Thirty nine of the 83 children received professional medical care for the laceration. Broken glass was estimated to be present on 30% of the outdoor walking area.

Conclusions—Broken glass is a significant health problem on littered urban streets. Preventive measures such as street cleaning, footwear education, and glass recycling incentives are needed to address this public health hazard.

Lacerations rank as the most common pediatric injury that requires a physician evaluation.1–5 Glass is a frequent cause of wounds in patients who present to an emergency department.

Both in England and the US, broken bottle glass has been reported to be the leading cause of lacerations, accounting for 15–27% of all lacerations seen in an urban emergency department.1, 6 However, while many studies have analyzed laceration injuries using emergency department data,1, 6–11 little is known about the out-of-hospital incidence or cause of lacerations in urban communities.

Lacerations due to glass can result in several health problems. Fragments of glass in a wound may lead to persistent pain, delayed healing, increased scarring, neuropraxis, and infection.12–16 In a prospective study of 415 children with cleaned and sutured lacerations in the lower extremities, 8.5% developed an infection.17 In addition, foreign body retention is more common when the wound is caused by stepping on glass as opposed to falling on glass, putting one's hand through glass, or being struck by glass.7 Glass injuries are special because the clinical assessment of the presence of a foreign body is difficult,18 and often insufficient to exclude the presence of retained glass.

This study was prompted by physicians and medical students, who during an urban immunization project, observed a surprisingly high prevalence of children playing without footwear in streets. The purpose of this study was to analyze the extent to which littered urban streets pose laceration dangers and to identify possible areas of prevention. A retrospective investigation analyzed the incidence and cause of lacerations sustained from walking outdoors, with particular attention to the circumstances surrounding injury (that is footwear, tetanus immunization status, and care given after injury) and the extent of glass litter on urban streets.

Of 241 children, 83 (34%) had been cut at least once in their life while walking outdoors. Eight children (10%) had been cut two or more times. The mean (SD) age of a child that had been cut was 8.9 (4.3) years. Most lacerations (81%) were caused by broken glass...

After the laceration had occurred, 24% received a tetanus immunization, and 29% required sutures. Altogether 35% received professional care at a hospital or health center for the injury. Fifty seven urban street blocks were surveyed for glass litter as described in the Methods section. Thirty per cent of the walking area was assessed to be dangerous because of broken glass.

Implications for prevention
In Massachusetts, broken glass recycling [bottle bill] legislation led to a 60% reduction in glass related lacerations in children in the course of one year.8 Such successful legislation is based on the model of providing a small financial incentive for the return of empty containers. The permanence of non-degradable trash, such as metal and glass, compounds the problem from year to year, calling for immediate preventive health action.

Ultimately, strong action is necessary to address broken glass as a health hazard. Glass littered urban streets need to be treated as an important public health problem.

Send this abovemenioned information to your elected members serving within the Tennesee General Assembly (and your local news media representatives) and request that they would help protect Tennessee children from glass lacerations by their enactment of SB 3616/ HB 3350 within the Tennessee General Assembly...