USA: move for bottle deposit law in Tennessee

The sponsor of a proposal to make Tennessee the 12th US state to enact a bottle and can deposit program was pessimistic about the chances of it becoming law, despite progress in the Tennessee House on…

The sponsor of a proposal to make Tennessee the 12th US state to enact a bottle and can deposit program was pessimistic about the chances of it becoming law, despite progress in the Tennessee House on 29 March 2006. The House Government Operations committee advanced the bill, but a similar plan to place a USD 0.05 deposit on drinks containers in 2005 has not advanced beyond the bill“s next stop, the State Government Subcommittee. Republican Russell Johnson, the bill“s sponsor, said “unless there“s a groundswell of phone calls and e-mails”, the chances of it advancing in 2006 are not very high. “The subcommittee truly bottled up the bill last year,” said the Mr. Johnson. “I“ve been assured we“ll at least have a motion and second this year to make our presentation.” Under the bill, distributors would pay a USD 0.05 deposit per container to the state, passing the costs on to the retailers and consumers. The deposit would be redeemed on returned empties. Milk, dietary supplements and medicines would be excluded. The first USD 10 million of any unclaimed refund money would go to the state Department of Transportation for existing county litter grant programs and any remaining money would go to the general revenue fund. A non-refundable USD 0.03 container fee would help fund the program. The bill is opposed by the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Stores Association, which said it would turn retailers into garbage collectors, while the state“s gas stations and soft drink and beer producers have called the proposal “a new consumer tax” which will invite fraudulent returns of containers from neighboring states. “People could take cans from Kentucky and redeem them here, and Tennessee would lose 5 cents every time that happens,” Springer said. The bill would establish penalties in an effort to minimize fraud. Individuals who knowingly try to claim refunds for more than 24 empty containers known to have originated out of state could face a civil penalty of USD 100 per container or up to USD 25,000 per haul. Distributors trying to avoid the law could be fined USD 10,000 per offense. Hawaii became the first state in 16 years to pass a container redemption law in 2002. Ten other states passed similar laws within a 15-year period starting with Oregon in 1971 and ending with California in 1986.