Above: Supporters of a Tennessee bottle bill gather at KP Duty's in Bristol, October 31, 2007, to celebrate the final mile of Marge Davis' month-long, 880-mile Cycling for Recycling bicycle ride. Left to right: Bob Mueller (who rode the final miles), Jim Elliott, Ellen Mueller, Fred Testa, Margaret Feirabend and Edd Hill. Unfortunately, Sue King-Marschalk left before Marge remembered to dig out her camera.
Who Supports Beverage Container Deposits?
It's true: From Memphis to Bristol (including the six folks in the photo at the top of this page), the vast majority of Tennesseans support a 5-cent deposit, with returns to redemption centers.
That's not just anecdotal. And it's not just the results of informal polls by newspapers, legislators and door-to-door canvassing.
It's the findings of two professional, randomized statewide surveys, the 2008 Recycling Poll by the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Tennessee, and the MTSU Poll in late 2009. Even the pollsters seemed surprised, but the results were consistent and clear: Support for a container deposit is broad and nonpartisan, extending from rural folk to city dwellers, from the very wealthy to those of more modest means, from young to old, black to white and Democrats to Republicans. (Click here to see the demographics breakdown of both surveys.)
And it's not just individuals. A Tennessee deposit has support among businesses, organizations, local governments, nonprofits, the media and even a few convenience stores.
Nor is it just here in Tennessee. A compilation of 42 polls from around the world—virtually all of them in places with widespread access to curbside recycling—found that support for container deposits averages 81 percent. In places that already have bottle bills, it's even higher—84 percent. Sound familiar?
The fact is, despite opponents' claims that deposits are unpopular, inefficient and obsolete, bottle bills are not only here to stay; they have been heating up in recent years, due in no small measure to public dismay over the mounting plastic pollution in our oceans. Since 2016, EIGHT new deposit programs—in Scotland, England, the tiny island-nation of Malta, four Australian states or territories and now the third-largest state in India, Maharashtra—home to Mumbai (former Bombay), the thriving "Bollywood" movie industry and 112 million people—have been announced or implemented, bringing to more than 50 the total number of deposit-return "schemes" worldwide, representing more than 430 million people. Far from being the dinosaurs that opponents would have you believe, deposits are a time-tested solution to a uniquely modern crisis.
Are you a supporter?
Send us your details--
and a logo if you have one
If you, your Tennessee business, church, civic group or other entity supports a 5-cent Tennessee deposit with returns to redemption centers, please let us know and we'll add your endorsement to the appropriate category. You can let us know of your support via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through our Get Involved page, or by completing and returning our entity endorsement form. We'd also like to create a logo display on the homepage, so if your entity has one, please email it to Marge. Finally, we need more local government endorsements, so if you serve on your county commission or city council, please consider introducing a resolution of support. We'll be more than happy to provide information, speakers and other resources to educate your colleagues. And remember: regular citizens can ask their commissioners or council members to do so.
And guess who else has come out in support of beverage container deposits, at least in the United Kingdom? The world's biggest distributor of the world's biggest beverage brand.
In February 2017, Coca-Cola European Partners, the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the world, made recycling history when it announced its support for a "well-designed" deposit-return scheme in Scotland—support which it later expanded to include the United Kingdom as a whole. You can read the official statement here.
In the ensuing months, both Scotland and England announced plans to implement deposit-return, and Wales and Ireland are said to be considering doing so as well.
The significance of Coca-Cola European Partners' position cannot be overstated. For more than 70 years, Coca-Cola has been one of the most powerful forces on earth against deposits. In 1953 it was one of the founding companies of Keep America Beautiful, an organization whose activities, in addition to planting trees and organizing litter cleanups, for many years included testifying in statehouses across the country against mandatory deposits.
So the 2017 decision by Coca-Cola European Partners to not only affirm the effectiveness of deposits but call for their use within its own sales territory, is something of a miracle. Though the European franchise does not speak for the parent company here in the US, its stated reasons for supporting a UK deposit—stagnant recycling rates, high consumer demand and rising concern about litter, especially plastic ocean debris—are precisely what is driving the debate here in Tennessee.