Two federal legislators have introduced separate pieces of legislation that would tax single-use plastic bags beginning in 2010, and impose a 5 cent nationwide deposit on plastic water and soft drink single-serve bottles.
A bill introduced April 22 marks the second attempt by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., to enact a nationwide bottle deposit. His previous attempt failed in 2007.
Eleven states have bottle deposits on soft drink bottles, and six of those states extend the deposits to water bottles as well. New York and Connecticut just expanded their bottle-deposit bills this year to include water, and a pending proposal to add deposits on bottles in Massachusetts is part of the state's budget proposal, which is nearing approval.
At least 10 other state legislatures are looking at bottle-bill proposals. But only Massachusetts and Oregon which is considering expanding its bill again to include teas and energy drinks are considered strong contenders to adopt additional legislation this year.
Indiana and New Mexico already have rejected bottle-bill proposals.
According to the Container Recycling Institute in Glastonbury, Conn., the recycling rate for PET carbonated beverage bottles in 2006 was 71.2 percent in the 11 states with bottle deposits, compared with 27 percent in the other 39 states. CRI said the recycling rate in 2006 for non-carbonated beverage bottles, including water bottles, was 35.2 percent in states with deposit laws and 13.6 percent in those without.
Rep. Jim Moran, who co-sponsored the federal bottle-deposit bill with Markey, also introduced April 22 the Plastic Bag Reduction Act of 2009, which starting Jan. 1 would place a 5 cent fee on bags for groceries, dry cleaning, takeout food, retail use and service station use. Under the proposal, that fee would rise to 25 cents starting Jan. 1, 2015.
San Francisco, Malibu and Fairfield, Calif., and Westport, Conn., have banned plastic bags, and Seattle voters will decide Aug. 18 whether to place a 20 cent tax on plastic bags at checkout lines. A 5 cent fee on plastic bags in Toronto goes into effect June 1.
A ban bag in Manhattan Beach was overturned in court in January, but the city has appealed that ruling. Also, savethebag.com has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a ban approved for San Jose but not yet in effect.
Eight states are considering proposals to place fees ranging from 5-25 cents on plastic disposable bags, including California, where two separate proposals to enact 25 cent fees on bags have been approved and sent to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.
Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's stores in the U.S. have stopped carrying plastic bags.