Who Supports Beverage Container Deposits for Tennessee?
It's true: According to two professional, randomized statewide surveys conducted here in Tennessee (the 2008 Recycling Poll by the UT Social Science Research Institute in 2008, and the MTSU Fall 2009 Poll), more than 80 percent of Tennessee adults support a 5-cent deposit, with returns to redemption centers. (Numerous informal polls by legislators, newspapers and door-to-door canvassing have found similarly high approval levels.)
The support is broad and nonpartisan, extending from rural folk to city dwellers, from wealthy to not-so-wealthy, from young to old, from black to white and from Democrats to Republicans too independents. (Click here to see the demographics breakdown of both surveys.)
In February 2017, Coca-Cola European Partners, the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the world, made recycling history by announcing 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. The significance of Coca-Cola European Partners' position cannot be overstated. Coca-Cola has been one of the most powerful forces aligned against deposits for more than 70 years, and its announcement marks the first time a major bottler has affirmed its support for deposits in the history of the debate. Though the European franchise does not speak for the parent company here in the U.S., its stated reasons for supporting a UK deposit—stagnant recycling rates, high consumer support and rising concern about litter, especially plastic ocean debris—are precisely the concerns driving the debate here in Tennessee (and our recycling rates are far more anemic than that of our neighbors across the pond).
And it's not just individuals. As you will see from the growing lists of constituency endorsements (click on a category below), a Tennessee deposit program has support among businesses, organizations, local governments, nonprofits and even a few grocery stores.
And it's not just here in Tennessee. A compilation of 42 polls done 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, support is even higher—84 percent.
The fact is, despite constant, even aggressive efforts by bottlers and other opponents to defeat, undermine or kill bottle bills, in spite of their claims that deposits are "obsolete," the outlook for new programs is getting better. In just the last two years, seven new deposit programs—in Scotland, England, Malta and four Australian states or territories—have been announced or implemented, bringing to more than 50 the total number of bottle bills worldwide, representing more than 318 million people. Far from being the dinosaurs that opponents would have you believe, deposits are finally getting the respect and legitimacy they deserve.
Are you a supporter? Let us know!
If you, your business, your church, your organization 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 email us your support (firstname.lastname@example.org), sign up via our Get Involved page, or click here to download and print an an endorsement form. If you serve on your county commission or city council, ask your colleagues to support a resolution of support. We'll be more than happy to provide information, speakers and other resources to educate your colleagues.