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.


Tennessee Bottle Bill Advances

'Bottle bill' advances on Capitol Hill but sponsor not confident of success

Associated Press Writer

Published: Wednesday, 03/29/06

A proposal to make Tennessee the 12th state to enact a bottle and can deposit program advanced in the House today but nevertheless left the measure's main sponsor pessimistic about its fate.

The House Government Operations committee advanced the bill, but a similar plan to place a 5-cent deposit on drinks containers last year got mired at the bill's next stop, the State Government Subcommittee.

Rep. Russell Johnson, the bill's sponsor, said "unless there's a groundswell of phone calls and e-mails," the chances of it advancing this year aren't very high.

"The subcommittee truly bottled up the bill last year," said the Loudon Republican. "I've been assured we'll at least have a motion and second this year to make our presentation."

Under the bill, distributors would pay a 5-cent deposit per container to the state, passing the costs on to the retailers and consumers. The deposit would be redeemed on returned empties. Milk, dietary supplements and medicines would be excluded.

The first $10 million of any unclaimed refund money would be allocated to the state Department of Transportation for existing county litter grant programs and any remaining money would go into the general revenue fund. A nonrefundable 3-cent container fee would help fund the program.

Jarron Springer of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Stores Association, said the bill would put "pressure put on retailers that they would become garbage collectors for the state."

Other opponents include the lobbying associations of the state's gas stations and soft drink and beer producers. They call the proposal "a new consumer tax."

Tennessee's already high sales tax encourages shoppers to travel across state borders, opponents say, and adding a deposit would only increase that trend.

They also say that a refund program in Tennessee would invite fraudulent returns of containers from surrounding states that don't have similar programs.

"People could take cans from Kentucky and redeem them here, and Tennessee would lose 5 cents every time that happens," Springer said.

The bill would set up penalties in an effort to minimize fraud. Individuals who knowingly try to claim refunds for more than 24 empty containers known to have originated out of state could be hit with a civil penalty of $100 per container or up to $25,000 per haul. Distributors skirting the law could be fined $10,000 per offense.

Hawaii became the first state in 16 years to pass a container redemption law in 2002. Ten other states passed similar laws within a 15-year period starting with Oregon in 1971 and ending with California in 1986.

An informal survey of Tennessee's roadsides by deposit proponents in December found that more than half of roadside trash consisted of drinks containers.

Critics said the survey was survey skewed to support the deposit legislation by measuring volume of trash instead of the number of items found.

Supporters, meanwhile, argue that measuring trash by the number of items found doesn't account for the large portion of litter from empty containers.

Published: Wednesday, 03/29/06


Welcome to the Tennessee Bottle Bill blog!

I am looking forward during 2006 (and beyond) to reading through all your contributed postings, links, and suggestions for the Tennessee Bottle Bill (TNBBb) blog:

1) it is very likely that school children of varying ages will visit the TNBBb --- keep your postings TNBBb postings un-littered with throw-away language and unsuitable image files;

2) document your information sources whenever possible within your first new posting to a topic (that helps).

Food City CEO & President
Steven C. Smith