30 May 2007

Bottle Deposits

There was a posting on bottle deposits on a mailing list that I subscribe to. I think that bottle deposits are a good thing, I think that to encourage recycling it might be necessary to increase the deposit on the bottles from a nickel. It has been a nickel since I was a child, and I think longer than that. (By bottle deposit, I also mean the deposit on soda cans as well)
The problem, though, is, at least under New York State's law, if you show up at any store with a bottle of a drink that they sell, they have to give you a deposit back. You don't have to return it to the store where you bought it. This is a problem for mom and pop stores.
There was a New York grocery store that I used to go to that was on the Pennsylvania (no deposit) and New York border. Someone took bottles/cans that he got in Pennsylvania and brought them to New York, where he attempted to redeem them. The New York grocery store got tired of this and eventually stopped him, probably by noting that some of the cans he was redeeming were not stamped with a five cent refund, even though the barcode was the same as refundable cans. If they doubled it to ten cents (or even made the amount more meaningful, like a quarter) it might have a significant impact on a store's income. On the other hand, recycling has become bigger now, so maybe it is not necessary to have the deposit law at all.


Jerry said...

I've thought about this subject myself, but came to the conclusion that a bottle deposit is simply a way for revenue generation, which is the reason it is kept low--the seller and the state really don't want anyone to return cans for the deposit. There already exists a market for scrap aluminum, which provides all the incentive one should need to collect cans--or at least just as much incentive as a measly nickel does. Let the state collect its revenue on the back end on the profits of scrap dealers.

D said...

I didn't know that the state was involved with the deposit, I thought it was just a fee charged by the bottler to the store, and then the store charged the customer. I didn't think the state made any revenue at all on it.

Jerry said...

they make some--I just read that in michigan unclaimed deposits escheat to the state.