NJFC and our members have come out in strong opposition to A-2281, which would require a 10 cent deposit on all plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans less than 24 oz. and a 20 cent deposit on these containers over 24 oz.
Our businesses already pay a Litter Tax on 15 litter generating categories of products including beverage containers. A bottle bill is doubling a tax on NJ consumers and our members! The business community came together almost 30 years ago in support of a Litter Tax in lieu of a bottle bill to create the New Jersey Clean Communities program and the Food Council was a founder and is a proud partner. This is a statewide, comprehensive, litter-abatement program created by the passage of the Clean Communities Act in 1986 and provides a funding source for the program by taxing litter generating products paid by retailers and passed through to consumers. Each year, on average, $18 million is collected to fund New Jersey Clean Communities and block grants are disbursed each year to municipalities, counties, and the state parks service. Every NJ neighborhood receives funding from the Clean Communities Program.
The Bottle Bill is wasteful and expensive to implement at retail. This bill represents a tremendous cost to our members which would necessarily be passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices. Our businesses typically operate on extremely slim profit margins of 1 – 2% and would not be able to absorb the costs forcing them to raise prices. While it’s true that consumers will get the 10 or 20 cent tax back if they return the bottles, they will still be paying more for every day necessities and staple items. In other states with bottle bill laws, it costs the retailer as much as 5 cents per container in compliance costs.
The Bottle Bill creates fraud and does not create the intended revenue. This proposed fee would instantly be one of the highest in North America. In Michigan, which has comparable rates to this bill, they have routinely had refund rates of over 100% due to large amounts of fraud at border stores despite being surrounded by water on three sides. If the goal of this legislation is truly to fund lead abatement in our water infrastructure the state will surely be disappointed by the revenue.
The Bottle Bill disrupts our successful solid waste management programs. New Jersey has a very successful curbside recycling program and Recycling Enhancement Act that provides tonnage grants to town. In particular, Newark receives nearly $450,000 in tonnage grant money. A bottle bill would disrupt this curbside recycling program and suspend the tonnage grant program. Curbside recycling is effective and convenient for consumers, and tonnage grants are a revenue source for our cash strapped municipalities.
The Bottle Bill is an old and outdated idea. Our municipalities are struggling and this is not the time to threaten their successful recycling income and endanger the funding source.
The Bottle Bill is a failed money grab and not a true approach to solving any water quality issues.