Arkansas could join 10 other states with refundable bottle deposits as the result of legislation filed Monday in the state legislature. Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) is sponsoring the bill to introduce a Container Deposit Law.
The proposal would increase the cost of certain bottles by 6 cents. A refund of 5 cents would be available at certified drop-off locations. Flowers said the program could reduce litter on Arkansas roads, bring recycling to many rural communities that currently have no access, and generate revenue for a variety of state and local organizations.
"Part of what we're doing is taking some of the unredeemed refunds and creating a grant program, some of which will go to the state aid program at the Department of Transportation, some of which will go to grants to help municipalities with their water infrastructure," Flowers said.
Taylor Bridges, the director of Arkansas for Container Deposit Law, has been working with Flowers to craft the bill.
"Adding a value to bottles and cans reduces the likelihood that they'll be littered, and then, if they are, it increases the likelihood that they'll be picked up," said Bridges. "The average Arkansan consumed 629 beverage containers in 2015, in one year. We currently pay to trash this commodity that we could create an economy around."
The proposal allows for private for-profit or non-profit organizations to become certified drop-off refund redemption locations. According to Flowers, the program could begin paying for itself within 3 years if passed into law.