The push for a “Bottle Bill” is being prompted in part by the amount of trash accumulating along roadways and shorelines. During the 2022 International Coastal Cleanup, 33,000 items of trash were collected in coastal Rhode Island that contained either bottles or items related to beverage packaging. During this winter’s Cleanup, the number of nip bottles alone recovered statewide was 32,000 in 57 days.
Groups pushing for a Bottle Bill include Friends of the Saugutucket, Clean Water Action, Save the Bay, Conservation Law Foundation, Clean Ocean Access, Just Zero, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, Zero Waste Providence, the Environment Council of Rhode Island, and Be the Solution to the Pollution.
All other New England states currently have some form of a Bottle Bill, although only Maine requires a deposit for plastic nips. A study by the Container Recycling Institute of the effects of Bottle Bills when first adopted in the U.S. showed a consistent 70-84% reduction in beverage-container litter and a 34-47% reduction in total litter.
Naturally, beverage industry groups and liquor-store owners are opposing the bill, claiming that Bottle Bills do little to reduce litter and are costly to implement.