Three States, Canadian Province Expand Container Deposit Programs
To increase packaging recycling rates, three U.S. states and a Canadian province have expanded their container deposit/redemption laws (otherwise known as "bottle bills") that will take effect in 2023 and beyond. For brand owners, the new rules add more product categories (e.g., wine, energy drinks, hard seltzer) with deposits and increase the redemption value (e.g., from 5 to 10 cents).
To comply with these new regulations, companies may need to update their product labels. Here, we break down each bottle bill, the products covered, and their key implementation dates.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for a review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney. It is the customer's responsibility to determine whether its filled product is subject to any applicable government regulations and to ensure compliance with such regulations.
Connecticut became the sixth U.S. state to implement a container deposit program in 1980. It initially covered beer and malt beverages, carbonated beverages (including mineral water and soda water), and non-carbonated water.
In 2021, Connecticut passed a law expanding its container deposit program to include alcoholic nips (single-shot liquor bottles), hard seltzer, hard cider, and a variety of non-carbonated ready-to-drink beverages, such as juice, tea, coffee, kombucha, plant-infused drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Glass, plastic, and metal packaging are subject to the deposit.
Exemptions to the new law include containers smaller than 150 mL, carbonated beverages larger than 3 L, and non-carbonated beverages larger than 2.5 L.
Source: Public Act No. 21-58
Key Date: January 1, 2023
Hard seltzer, hard cider, and a variety of non-carbonated, ready-to-drink beverages are required to carry a 5-cent deposit in Connecticut. The product labels must include the words "Redemption Value" or "CRTV."
Key Date: January 1, 2024
The 5-cent deposit on all covered products will increase to 10 cents in Connecticut, joining Michigan and Oregon as the only other states with a 10-cent value.
This fall, California passed legislation adding wine and distilled spirits to its bottle bill. Proponents of the new rule cite low recycling rates of less than 30% for wine and liquor containers, compared with 70% of beverage containers covered by the existing container deposit system.
Source: Senate Bill No. 1013
Key Date: January 1, 2024
A 10-cent refund value will apply to most of the estimated 1.2 billion wine and distilled spirit containers sold in California annually, while a 25-cent refund value will apply to wine sold in difficult-to-recycle boxes, bladders, pouches, and similar plastic containers.
Key Date: July 1, 2025
Labeling for wine and spirits must display the California Redemption Value (CRV) logo.
Earlier this year, Oregon added canned wine to its list of products (i.e., water/flavored water, beer and malt beverage, mineral water, soda water, carbonated soft drink, kombucha, and hard seltzer) with a 10-cent deposit.
Source: Senate Bill 1520
Key Date: July 1, 2025
Wine packaged in a can will carry a 10-cent deposit in Oregon.
All Canadian provinces have deposit laws on certain beverage containers. In 2020, Quebec expanded its bottle bill requirements to include all beverage containers ranging in size from 100 mL to 2 liters. Originally scheduled to roll out by the end of 2022, the implementation of the new law has been pushed back to the fall of 2023 due to pandemic-related labor shortages.
Wine and liquor bottles will carry a CAD 25-cent deposit, while a CAD 10-cent deposit will apply to other beverages. The expanded deposit-refund system covers glass, plastic, and metal containers. Following two years of implementation, the system will oversee multilayer containers.
Source: Modernization of Québec’s Deposit-Refund and Selective Collection Systems
On average, states with bottle bill programs recycle 60% of beverage containers. The remaining 40 states without such programs recycle about 24% — showing that financial incentives are effective. Michigan and Oregon, two states with a 10-cent deposit value, have the country's highest beverage container recycling rates (89% and 86%, respectively). Connecticut will join them in 2024.
However, recycling rates in the ten bottle-bill states have fallen over the past decade. This is likely due to deposit-refund values not keeping pace with inflation: for example, a nickel deposit in the 1970s (when many bottle bills were first enacted) is equivalent in purchasing power to more than 20 cents today.
Despite this decrease in recycling rates, financial incentives are proven to work. Companies can help spur recycling rates by updating their brand labels and supporting sustainable packaging legislation.
Berlin Packaging can help your company find holistic packaging solutions. With our expansive suite of sustainability consulting services, we can help you source and integrate post-consumer recycled (PCR) content into your packaging portfolio, quantify sustainability impact through life-cycle assessments, and provide guidance on effective sustainability reporting and communication strategies.