Incentivizing Bottle Recycling

Minnesotans care about our environment, and individuals, municipalities, and even businesses want to reduce their carbon footprint and produce less waste. Unfortunately, our best intentions to “do the right thing” aren’t enough. Our state must invest in commonsense plans to help everyone recycle more and produce less waste.

Making Minnesota a Bottle Bill State

A recycling refund bill would incentivize consumers to return and recycle used bottles by adding a small deposit to the price of beverage containers. Consumers who return the container redeem their deposit.

Two “bottle bill” states, Michigan and Oregon, regularly achieve redemption rates of around 85%—the average redemption rate across all 10 bottle bill states is around 69%. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reported that just 56.5% of aluminum cans were recycled in Minnesota in 2021.

Bottle bills help local recycling centers by reducing the contamination of other recycled materials. In non-bottle bill states, bottles are mixed in with all other recyclables, and broken glass and non-recyclable plastic contaminate materials, making them unusable. Under a bottle bill system, there is much less contamination. This is why over half of all recycled glass in the US is collected from the 10 bottle bill states.

Recycling aluminum cans uses 90% less energy than manufacturing cans from new materials.

A Minnesota Bottle Bill would divert tons of material from landfills and allow manufacturers to reuse bottles, helping save enormous amounts of energy and emissions required to produce new ones. 

Conservation Minnesota first advocated for a bottle bill over a decade ago. We plan to work with legislators in the 2024 legislative session to make Minnesota the 11th bottle bill state in the country. 

Reducing waste and keeping recyclables out of landfills are steps we can take to protect our air and water. To have an impact, Minnesota must invest in recycling programs, increase incentives for recycling, and help producers consider the lifecycle of the products they create.