Drink Up: New Bill Would Give You Cash Back For Empties

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Under a new bill, bottles could soon be refundable.

Finishing a six-pack could soon become a more profitable endeavor.

A bill introduced to the House, HB 1473 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, HB-calls for cash incentives for recycling many beverage containers. State Senator Rodney Ellis has also introduced the same bill into the senate.

The bill would require many beverage containers to be refundable, for five or 10 cents each. The money refunded would come from a deposit paid for when the beverages are purchased. A similar “bottle bill” was introduced to the legislature in 2011, but didn’t pass.

The Texas League of Conservation Voters (TLCV) commissioned a report on how the deposit-recycling program could affect the state economy. It says that if the program is implemented, the state could gain 2,300 jobs and reduce beverage container litter by 80 percent.

“This study demonstrates a beverage container deposit program is a job creator that will have a dramatic impact on economic development and substantially increase recycling in Texas,” Rep. Rodriguez said in a statement.

“We think it could be a real win-win,” David Weinberg, the executive director of the TLCV says. “It would increase jobs and recycling and reduce litter.”

The bills focus on the potential environmental improvements caused by the program, saying it would improve water quality and reduce pollution.

Weinberg remains optimistic about the bill’s potential impact, but realistic about its future.

“It would be difficult to get it passed at this point in time in Texas,” he says.

In the past, beverage producers and distributers have opposed deposit-recycling legislation.

Currently, ten states have container-deposit refund systems.

If all of this is making you thirsty, you may want to check out some other bills filed this session that aim to help smaller Texas brewers sell and market their wares.

Olivia Gordon is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas.


  • Tualatin

    I didn’t know that any US states still resisted passing a beverage container bill. My home state of Oregon passed one in 1971. The law is credited with reducing litter and increasing container recycling. As a result, items that used to make up 40% of roadside litter have dropped to 6%. Return rates average about 90%.

  • my two cents

    Yeah as usual the big beverage are against it. It’s the reason most countries don’t have them. Thanks a lot coke.

  • LT

    Bottle deposit bills work. Period. http://www.bottlebill.org/legislation/usa/michigan.htm
    As a native Michigander, I’m still not accustomed to the Texas way of throwing away cans & bottles. They still look like dimes to me.

  • geighter eighter

    No! no, no, no, no, no, no.
    Absolutely NO to the Bottle Bill(s) in Texas.
    I am a traveler and I’ve been in Oregon and California and Michigan, and yeah they collect container deposits and then make you to have to go find some place to get your money back. BS! That is nothing short of another TAX.
    Back in the day, in Texas, when you could take bottles back to any store and redeem deposits – that was great.
    Nowadays, you’ve got salvage centers you can take aluminum cans to or you can set your recyclables out in recycle bins. That’s fine and it works well.
    Granted there isn’t as much demand for recycling plastic or glass bottles because of the associated costs. It cost too much to recycle and it pays too little to make the effort worthwhile.
    I am stating that people would be more supportive of getting more containers off the roadside if it were to become more practical to make that effort to deposit those recyclable items in places where folks could more easily collect them and then take them to the salvage centers when they have accumulated enough to make the trip worth their effort to earn a fair return for their time, energy and efforts.
    Otherwise, you folks are supporting nothing more than another TAX on everybody.
    Everybody who has to pay those deposit amounts, and too, everybody who has to employ all the efforts to implement all of the policies that will inevitably be drafted to make it as burdensome as possible on Texans. That is the only way bureaucratic intervention will ever work – work folks up with an emotional feel-good idea to help save some pet agenda and then make it as burdensome as possible to derive any benefit to anyone except for those enforcing their money-making schemes.
    Vote NO! Emphatically!

    • Sabs

      Could you elaborate? The new proposed law will allow you to get your deposit back.

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