Maine’s Bottle Bill

Maine distributors ensure their empty containers make it to a can or bottle recycling center or are disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner.
Distributors ensure their empty containers make it to a can or bottle recycling center or are disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner.

The purpose behind Maine’s bottle bill is to encourage consumers to recycle their empty beverage containers. The primary goal is to reduce the amount of litter on the ground and decrease the amount of solid waste being sent to Maine landfills.

Distributors ensure their empty containers make it to a can or bottle recycling center or are disposed of in an environmentally-sound manner.
Maine beer and wine distributors are responsible for their empty containers once they are used and returned. As a result, our industry and the redemption service it offers play a leading role in keeping Maine clean and green.

Here’s how the bottle bill works in Maine:

  1. When Maine distributors sell beverages to retailers, they are required by Maine law to charge a deposit to the retailer on each beverage container sold.
  2. The retailer then passes the container deposit along to the customer when the beverages are purchased.
  3. After they are consumed, the customer returns all of their empty Maine bottles and cans to a redemption center for a refund of the deposits they paid.
  4. The redemption center sorts the containers by material type and by the company responsible for picking up the containers.
  5. Distributors send trucks to redemption centers to pick up their empties. They pay for the refunded deposits, and also pay a handling fee to the redemption center for collecting and sorting the containers.
  6. Finally, the distributors manage the process of recycling of the containers, sending them out for processing and reuse, or ensuring they are disposed of in an eco-friendly manner.

In this video, Joe Karter, Owner of Joka’s Discount Beverage in Waterville, Maine, talks about the role of the distributor in the bottle redemption process and how the service from his local distributor helps his business succeed. He elaborates on the ability for Joka’s to participate in the bottle redemption process and how it helps his local business to keep customers coming back on a regular basis.

Other Bottle Bill Facts

  • Number of Bottle Bill States: Eleven
  • Redemption Center Handling Fee Charges in ME:
    $.040 per container, for non-commingling
    $.035 per container, for commingling (beginning 3/1/2010)
  • Redemption Center Handling Fee Charges in OTHER states:
    • California – Beverage manufacturers pay Processing Fees to offset recyclers costs when the cost of recycling exceeds the value of material. Processing Payments (1.8¢ per container) paid by state to redemption centers
    • Connecticut – Beer 1.5¢, other beverages 2¢
    • Delaware – 20% of deposit (1¢)
    • Hawaii – 1-1.5¢ non-refundable container fee (added to price of beverage) paid to the state
    • Iowa – 1¢, paid by distributor to retailer or redemption center
    • Massachusetts – 2.25¢
    • Maine – 3.5¢ (3¢ if qualified commingling agreement)
    • Michigan – None
    • New York – 3.5¢
    • Oregon – None
    • Vermont – 3.5¢
  • Maine has an “expanded” bottle bill, which means many more types of beverages are included (bottled waters, juices, etc.), thus creating a much more complicated system with many more “sorts” for redemption centers.
  • States with an “expanded” bottle bill: California, Hawaii and Maine
  • States that include WINE in the bottle bill: Iowa and Maine

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