Solid Waste:

Trade-offs Involved in Beverage Container Deposit Legislation

RCED-91-25: Published: Nov 14, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 27, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the potential effects of a national beverage container deposit law.

GAO found that: (1) beverage industry representatives reported that the capital and operating costs to implement deposit systems would hurt retailers and distributors because of additional transportation, storage, and labor costs; (2) beverage and container manufacturing industry representatives argued that higher beverage prices and the inconvenience of the deposit system to consumers would lower beverage consumption; (3) despite studies showing declines in beverage consumption in some states with deposit laws, the declines were short-term and only partially attributable to deposit laws; (4) the glass container manufacturing industry maintained that deposit laws could cause a loss of jobs in that industry; (5) most studies maintained that deposit laws significantly reduced litter, conserved energy and natural resources, and diverted waste away from landfills; (6) deposit laws could have a significant role in helping to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's 25-percent solid waste recycling goal; and (7) although deposit systems could divert potential revenue away from curbside recycling programs, most states with deposit laws indicated that curbside recycling could coexist with deposit systems.

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