Recycling Refunds Work

Image: Ron Lach / Pexels

A new informational website has been launched in the US, – featuring organisations that have endorsed guiding principles for recycling refund programmes, and support these programmes at the federal and state level.

These organisations include The Aluminum Association, American Conservation Coalition, American Consumer Institute, Can Manufacturers Institute, ConservAmerica, Consumer Action, National Consumers League, National Recycling Coalition, Rainey Center Freedom Project, Reloop, US Public Interest Research Group, and Virginia Bottle Bill Organization.

According to Recycling Refunds Work, a successful recycling refund programme should adhere to the following guiding principles:

  • Any entity managing the system should have strong government oversight and must meet performance targets;
  • Appropriate deposit values to avoid market distortion and to catalyse high recycling rates;
  • Unredeemed deposits should enhance the recycling system;
  • Include all beverage types and containers with minimal exceptions;
  • Easy, convenient, and equitable redemption options are available as part of everyday activities for all consumers;
  • Each material pays its own way;
  • Use technology and clear labelling to reduce fraud.

Amidst the website’s launch, The Aluminium Association has released the results of a public opinion poll it conducted, which found that 81 per cent of Americans support recycling refund programmes that place a fully refundable deposit (usually 5 or 10 cents) on beverage containers at the time of purchase that is refunded upon return of the container.

The focal point of The Aluminum Association’s poll is that support for these programmes was strong and consistent across all political and demographic groups, registering at more than 70 per cent for Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Residents of states with existing recycling refund programmes reportedly displayed the highest level of support at 90 per cent. Currently, 10 states plus Guam use recycling refund programmes in the US.

Some other encouraging takeaways from the poll include:

  • Respondents believe that reducing litter (78 per cent); enabling reuse of materials (79 per cent); creating jobs (77 per cent); and lowering greenhouse gas emissions (77 per cent) were the primary reasons to support recycling refunds.
  • A strong majority (72 per cent) of respondents support redemption programmes incentivising companies to use materials with high economic value, such as aluminium beverage cans.

“It’s clear that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to grow the economy, improve recycling and reduce litter and greenhouse gas emissions through recycling refund programmes,” said Charles Johnson, president and CEO of The Aluminum Association. “During a time when few public policies enjoy such strong bipartisan support, lawmakers should act – pursuing well-designed recycling refund programmes at the state and federal level.”

“Recycling refund programmes are an effective, common-sense way to incentivise consumers to recycle,” said Robert Budway, president of Can Manufacturers Institute. “Increasing recycling rates is beneficial in many ways. From reducing litter and keeping recyclable materials out of landfills to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs, the benefits of policies that grow recycling are enormous. Not only does data from the United States and the many countries around the world with active recycling refund programmes prove they are effective, they are universally popular across party lines. We hope lawmakers across the country will recognise the wisdom of implementing recycling refund programmes.”

Hear, hear.

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