‘Bottle Bill’ Being Considered By Maryland General Assembly

Supporters say it would reduce plastic pollution in the state.

Annapolis, Md (KM) A beverage container recycling and refund program would be established in Maryland under a bill before the 2024 General Assembly.

Often called “bottle bills,” the legislation would charge customers who purchase beverages in metal, plastic or glass containers  a small deposit. It would be 10 cents for containers less than 24 ounces, bottles or cans; it would be 15-cents for containers up to three liters.  Customers would get that fee refunded  when they drop off the used containers  at a redemption facility, which could be  the store where the containers were  purchased.

This was a practice many years ago, but there’s a difference, says Martha Ainsworth, with the Maryland Sierra Club’s Zero Waste Team. She says the materials dropped off would be recycled and then reused as beverage containers. “One of the virtues of these bottle bills is they keep beverage containers separate from the things that can contaminate them. So they can be recycled directly into new beverage containers. They won’t be down-cycled into some other products,” she says.

Ainsworth says another advantage to these “bottle bills”: is they cut down on pollution by two-thirds, especially plastics. “A lot of beverage containers are plastic. In fact, of the four-billion, two to three billion are plastic,. So we’re in the middle of a plastic pollution crisis,”: she says.

A lot of these plastics end up in Maryland’s waterways, Ainsworth says.

Ainsworth says these types of recycle and refund programs have been operating successfully in ten states for many years. “it reduces the amount of virgin materials needed to make those beverage containers. So in the case of plastic, it means less virgin plastic produced; more of it being used,” she said. . “And that stuff is being diverted from landfills and incinerators.”

She also pointed out that plastics are not harmless. “Plastic just breaks down into smaller plastic pieces. It affects wildlife. It affects people,” Ainsworth said. “We know that there have been plastic particles found in every human organ, including the brain, including blood,  a woman’s placenta,” says Ainsworth.

Bills to set up a beverage container recycling and refund program in Maryland  have been introduced in the House of Delegates and the State Senate. Frederick County Delegate Kris Fair has signed on as a co-sponsor of the House bill; State Senator Karen Lewis Young is  a co-sponsor of the Senate bill.

If it doesn’t pass this year, Ainsworth says it will be back. “It’s going to make a couple of years, but we’re here too. So we’re hoping we’ll get some traction,”  she says.

By Kevin McManus