Degree Year

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Studies

Advisor(s)

Swapna Pathak

Keywords

Bottle bill, Corporate interference, Comparative analysis, Container deposit legislation, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Question 2, Initiative 256, Richard Chambers, International recycling industry, Wenan County, Aluminum, PET, Scrounging

Abstract

This research is a case-based comparative analysis between bottle bill campaigns and policies in four different U.S. states in order to analyze the determining and preventative variables in the passage of bottle bills. Additionally, this study compares what ways these types of legislation are ultimately effective or ineffective in meeting economic, environmental, and social goals under the framework of Triple Bottom Line Sustainability. These four case study states (OR, ME, MA, and WA) have been selected to exemplify several public, private, and mixed systems that display varying outcomes in participation in the program and impacts on litter and local economies. Bottle bill systems are well-suited to be analyzed with this comprehensive framework because they can provide economic, social, and environmental benefits to the places where this kind of deposit system is implemented. Economically, bottle bills create jobs in redemption, transportation, and create high quality recycled products in high demand by recycling facilities. Further, the unredeemed deposits from containers not returned results in a large pool of money that can be strategically used for state spending, environmental projects, or to fund the container program itself. Environmentally, bottle bills have proven themselves to be powerful mechanism to decrease litter and to conserve resources through a monetary incentive to reuse and recycle. While it is to be expected that much of the literature on the subject focuses on the cost and economic efficiency of the market-based regulation, I believe that there remains a hole in the literature that fails to directly recognize the ways that deposit systems are entangled in local, state, and even international social systems. It is within this arena that this research is one of the first to explore the social services and environmental justice aspects of bottle bills.

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