Uncapping the Pros and Cons of a Bottle Deposit Program: Will a Beverage-Container Deposit Program Reduce Litter in Maryland? And At What Cost?

March 2012 / Community Development / Abell Reports

An examination of this issue—along with potential impacts on recycling rates, employment, beverage sales, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Beverage-container deposit programs currently exist in 10 states across the country and are under consideration in several others. These programs add a refundable deposit (generally 5 or 10 cents) to the purchase price of a beverage container. When the consumer returns the beverage container for recycling, the deposit is returned. The unique nature of disposable beverage containers provides the opportunity to use a market-based system to incentivize the proper handling and disposal of these items.

However, deposit programs remain highly debated, with strong supporters and detractors. The goal of the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) project team is to provide an objective analysis that informs the decision-making process within the state of Maryland as it considers legislation in the future. This executive summary summarizes the team’s key findings associated with extended research.