Skip to main content

Survey Finds Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Recycling Refund Programs

New Data Shows 81% of U.S. Voters Support Improving Recycling with 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. 

Pie chart showing support for recycling refund programs

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 – www.RecyclingRefundsWork.org – 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 the 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 believe 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. 

Bar chart showing U.S. Recycling Rates by Deposit Status, 2019

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.

To learn more about the results of this study and the benefits of recycling refund programs, visit www.RecyclingRefundsWork.org

###

What Supporting Organizations Say

“It’s clear that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to grow the economy, improve recycling and reduce litter and greenhouse gas emissions through recycling refund programs. During a time when few public policies enjoy such strong bipartisan support, lawmakers should act – pursuing well-designed recycling refund programs at the state and federal level.”

- Charles Johnson, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association

“Recycling refund programs are an effective, common-sense way to incentivize consumers to recycle. Increasing recycling rates is beneficial in many ways. From reducing litter and keeping recyclable materials out of landfills to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs, the benefits of policies that grow recycling are enormous. Not only does data from the United States and the many countries around the world with active recycling refund programs prove they are effective, they are universally popular across party lines. We hope lawmakers across the country will recognize the wisdom of implementing recycling refund programs.”

- Robert Budway, president of Can Manufacturers Institute

“Bipartisan solutions to environmental problems too often seem elusive. But with ‘bottle bills,’ policymakers have a tried-and-true system that promotes environmental protection via individual responsibility. Democrats and Republicans should look to our set of principles as a way to come together to increase recycling rates and reduce litter in our communities and public lands. If done correctly, these programs also reduce greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening U.S. competitiveness through a decreased dependence on imported materials. It is in our national interest to ensure that high-value, high-demand materials, like aluminum, are returned to U.S. manufacturers rather than ending up in landfills or as trash on our public lands.”

- Jeff Kupfer, President of ConservAmerica

“Most Americans care deeply about doing their part to protect the environment. One way many of us do that is by recycling. Recycling refund programs can be a consumer-friendly way to increase recycling rates. But we know from the California experience that easy, equitable redemption for consumers and full retailer participation are essential. With buy-in from all stakeholders, well-designed recycling refund programs are a common-sense policy that help consumers do their part in protecting the environment.”

- Ken McEldowney, Executive Director of Consumer Action

“Recycling reduces waste, litter and consumption, all of which helps to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to recycling refund systems, 10 states have seriously improved their recycling. In fact, those states have significantly higher recycling rates than states that don’t have recycling refunds. What makes these programs so great is that they are not only effective, they are also popular across the political spectrum, more than 80 percent support across the country. We are proud to be joining a diverse coalition in expressing support for implementing more recycling refund systems.”

- Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League

“The economic and environmental benefits that a modern, high-performing nationwide deposit return delivers are well-documented: 188 billion additional containers recycled each year; more than 150,000 additional direct and indirect jobs created; and a carbon impact equivalent of removing 2.4 million cars from the road annually. These are only possible with a 90 percent collection rate and adhering to clear guiding principles. We at Reloop are committed to supporting responsible, effective policy, and efforts such as this bring us all one step closer to that objective."

- Elizabeth Balkan, Director, Reloop North America

Media Contact

Katie Rosebrook
(918) 520-4546
krosebrook@aluminum.org 

 

Sherrie Rosenblatt 
202-232-4677
srosenblatt@cancentral.com

# # #

About The Aluminum Association
The Aluminum Association represents aluminum production and jobs in the United States, ranging from primary production to value added products to recycling, as well as suppliers to the industry. The association is the industry’s leading voice, representing companies that make 70% of the aluminum and aluminum products shipped in North America. The association develops global standards, business intelligence, sustainability research and industry expertise for member companies, policymakers and the general public. The aluminum industry helps manufacturers produce sustainable and innovative products, including more fuel-efficient vehicles, recyclable packaging, greener buildings and modern electronics.  In the U.S., the aluminum industry supports $176 billion in economic activity and more than 634,000 jobs. For more information visit https://www.aluminum.org or find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. 

Join Us

Join us at the Aluminum Association to stay one step ahead of industry trends and benefit from global best practices.

Join Today

Aluminum Bookstore

Your one-stop shop for technical articles, publications, standards, data and other information about aluminum.

Shop Now

Buyer’s Guide

Providing all necessary information and comparisons in an easily searchable format so you can find a solution to fit your needs.

View Now