Lawmakers in at least six states have proposed legislation to add bottle bills so far in 2019. Bills have been proposed in Arkansas (House Bill 1771), Florida (Senate Bill 853), Illinois (House Bill 2651), New Jersey (Assembly Bill 1710), Tennessee (House Bill 0814 and Senate Bill 0885) and West Virginia (House Bill 3120).
Arkansas state House Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) filed HB 1771 March 11 in hopes of introducing a bottle bill. The state last proposed legislation in 2007; but. according to a news release from KATV in Little Rock, Arkansas, proposed legislation “appears to have bipartisan support.”
Susan Collins, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, Culver City, California, says lawmakers in various states propose bottle bills every year; however, she adds that seeing six different states with active proposals is a little on the “high side.”
“I think [most] of these states have had proposed legislation at one point or another,” she says. “Sometimes legislators introduce these bills and work on them all year. Sometimes they introduce it, but they don’t put their full effort into it. Without a fair amount of effort behind [a bottle bill], a lot of education needs to be done to get it passed.”
With the currently proposed bills, Collins notes that Tennessee’s HB 814 and SB 885 have strong support, making them more likely to pass in the near future.
“It’s a well-developed effort,” she says of Tennessee’s proposed bottle bill.
While it’s not likely for all of these proposed bills to pass without strong organized support, Collins adds that these types of regulations along with bottle bill expansion plans are needed in light of new sustainability goals from some of the major beverage companies in the United States.
“A big factor in all of this is that beverage companies and makers of other types of packaged goods have come out with new sustainability goals,” she says. “They have goals saying they will use a certain amount of recycled content. But that [material] is not available because we’re not collecting enough [polyethylene terephthalate].
“The current PET recycled content rate with bottles is only 7 percent. In other words, of all the PET bottles out there, the average content is only 7 percent recycled yet some companies are saying they want to use 50 percent recycled content.”