Aerial view of four lines of green glass bottles standing in organized holders.

Modernizing Bottle Recycling

Bottle Bills for the Win

Millions of beverage containers end up in landfills, incinerators, or the environment as litter. But modern bottle recycling systems, or “Bottle Bills,” can effectively collect, refill, and recycle these containers. How do these systems work? By placing a small refundable fee, or deposit, on bottles and cans. Consumers get that money back when they return the empty containers. Beverage producers then pay to send empty containers to facilities for recycling or refilling – and at no cost to consumers!

The Problem with Curbside Recycling

Beverage Giants, like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, primarily sell their drinks in single-use plastic bottles, glass containers, or aluminum cans. These containers, particularly plastic bottles, are made with newly sourced materials. Why? Because new, or virgin, plastic is cheap. Plus, corporations take zero responsibility for the costly impact plastic production and disposal has on our communities, our environment, and our climate.

Blue recycling bin on curb

Often, recycling is pushed as the solution to the plastic crisis. But curbside recycling systems don’t work. Materials like glass break in single-stream recycling systems. So, instead of being recycled, it ends up as landfill cover or roadbed materials. Plastic beverage containers recycled through single-stream systems often are too contaminated to be turned into new containers. And because many beverages are consumed on the go – at work or other public spaces that don’t provide recycling – they get thrown in the trash or tossed aside as litter.

14.5 Trillion

Pounds Of plastic packaging were sold by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé in 2021


Advancing the Solution

Only ten states have some form of a Bottle Bill. Most of these laws only cover a fraction of the single-use beverages containers sold in these states. What’s more, they have outdated, low deposits, meaning most people don’t bother to bring their empty containers back for recycling. Plus, none of these laws have minimum recycling rates or mandates for refillable beverage containers. Beverage Giants have been lobbying hard to undermine existing systems, block new laws, or pass weak laws that will not be effective, for decades.

10 States with Bottle Bills


New York

At Just Zero, we push for modern bottle recycling bills that include the best policies. We connect environmental organizations, local activists, and lawmakers so they can work together to pass those bills. We also hold Beverage Giants accountable for the pollution they create by blocking modern Bottle Bills.

Join the movement

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