Container deposit laws have long been one of the battlegrounds between recyclers and other interests.
Currently 10 states have container deposit laws, popularly known as bottle bills. A new one hasn't been implemented since 2005, and Delaware repealed its law a few years ago for its new, broader recycling law.
But the success of container deposit laws is compelling. The 11 states with container deposit laws (Delaware is counted for the time when the law was active) consistently recycled bottles at rates of 66 percent to 96 percent. The bottle bill states make up only 28 percent of the U.S. population but they recycled 46 percent of the containers recycled in 2010, the most recent year of the comprehensive study on bottle bills by the association pushing for deposit laws, the Culver City, Calif.-based Container Recycling Institute (CRI).
The CRI report examines data through 2010, but the report was compiled in 2013, and is the latest data available, says Susan Collins, CRI president, in an e-mail. The data for the states in this gallery is generalized, as CRI specific data is available only to members.
Collins points out that the beverage containers recycled in each state include containers on deposit and those not on deposit, so there's one recycling rate for deposit containers and a lower recycling rate for non-deposit containers. Also, Collins says that the consumption of beverages varies quite a bit from state to state. "Water is popular on the coasts. Beer is popular in rural states, etc. So, the combination of high consumption and high recycling rates leads to the highest per capita recycling rate."