Survey finds bipartisan support for recycling refund programs

New data shows that 81% of U.S. voters support improving recycling with a well-designed beverage container redemption system.

A new public opinion poll found that 81% of Americans support recycling refund programs, which place a fully refundable deposit (usually 5 or 10 cents) on beverage containers at the time of purchase that is refunded upon return of the container. Consumers essentially buy the beverage and borrow the container. When the borrowed container is returned, it delivers high quality materials domestically for recycling into new products, including beverage containers.

Support for these programs was strong and consistent across all political and demographic groups, registering at more than 70% for Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Residents of states with existing recycling refund programs displayed the highest level of support at 90%. Currently, 10 states plus Guam use recycling refund programs in the United States.

The news comes amidst the launch of an informational microsite featuring organizations that have endorsed guiding principles for recycling refund programs and support these programs at the federal and state level. Supporting organizations include the Aluminum Association, American Conservation Coalition, American Consumer Institute, Can Manufacturers Institute, ConservAmerica, Consumer Action, National Consumers League, National Recycling Coalition, Rainey Center Freedom Project, Reloop, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and Virginia Bottle Bill Organization.

Other key takeaways from the survey include:

  • All respondents, no matter their political affiliation (87% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, and 73% of Independents) support recycling refund programs.
  • Of those who have redeemed deposits, 69% report that if redeemed at a retail location, they would spend all or some of the deposit refund at the retail location where they received their redemption.
  • A majority (72%) of respondents support redemption programs incentivizing companies to use materials with high economic value, such as aluminum beverage cans.
  • A majority of voters (more than 72%) say it is important to recycle all types of materials (plastic, metal, glass, paper, multi-layer cartons).
  • Respondents believed that reducing litter (78%); enabling reuse of materials (79%); creating jobs (77%); and lowering greenhouse gas emissions (77%) were the primary reasons to support recycling refunds.

In recent years, recycling rates across the United States have stagnated. However, beverage containers sold with a deposit are recycled at rates two to three times higher than containers sold without a deposit, according to data from the Container Recycling Institute. The two U.S. states with 10-cent deposits on beverage containers (Michigan and Oregon) often achieve beverage container recycling rates above 85%. Research by Reloop estimated that a national recycling refund program with a 90% redemption rate would create more than 155,000 direct and indirect jobs and would annually avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking more than 2.37 million cars off the road.


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