The Bottle Bill Wars


For more than thirty years, bottlers, retailers, unions,  recyclers, environmentalists and other interested parties have been squaring off over whether glass containers, once emptied, should be returned for reuse or tossed in the garbage.  Nine states  have enacted Bottle Bills — laws which require that deposits, ranging from 2 to 10 cents per container, be paid at time of purchase of glass beverage containers purchased in the state.  The fight has now come to MA where environmentalists  are moving to expand an existing Bottle Bill to include not just beer, wine and soda bottles, but water and juice containers as well.   Polar Beverages, the nation’s largest independent soft drink bottler, is fighting back.  The bottler contends that the deposit program will increase costs for bottling companies and consumers of soft drinks.   The company says that the Bottle Bill program in the state is anachronistic, having been adopted at a time before curbside side pick up of recyclables became commonplace.   Polar further points out that most of the bottles the company is currently required to take back at a cost of 2.25 cents per container end up being shipped to Michigan for recycling.

A driving force behind the adoption of Bottle Bills in this and other countries, is the glass manufacturers’ demand that only single-color glass  be recycled in their  glass plants.    This industry-wide, misguided demand results in approximately 50% of  recyclable glass being disposed of in landfills nationwide.   Green Mountain Glass has developed a process called the Batch Formulation System which enables glass manufacturers to recycle the mountains of  mixed-color cullet that exist today in the US.

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