The Beverage Container Recovery Law has been on the books in Massachusetts for decades. The law was enacted in 1982 and commenced in 1983. The idea was to reduce the number of discarded cans and bottles on the streets of Massachusetts while generating funds for recycling programs.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection says under the Beverage Container Recovery Law, "There is a five-cent deposit on carbonated soft drink, beer, malt beverage, and sparkling water containers sold in Massachusetts."

Consumers can return clean, empty deposit bottles and cans to a retailer that sells them or to a redemption center. MassDEP says, "Under the 'Bottle Bill,' retailers are required to redeem containers at full deposit value, while redemption centers may deduct processing fees from refunds."

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So what happens when a deposit is unclaimed?

MassRecycle.org says, "Though the intent of the 1983 Bottle Bill was to use unredeemed deposits to support recycling, they are currently directed into the Massachusetts General Fund."

What Massachusetts Does With Unclaimed Bottle Deposit Money
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The site says only 23 percent ($60 million) of the $226 million in unredeemed deposits from 1990 to 2002 "was used to support recycling."

Bottlebill.org agrees. The site says, "The other $166 million went towards the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) overhead costs unrelated to the original mandate of the law."

Bottlebill.org says the law intended to use the (CEF) Clean Environment Fund –unredeemed deposits – "exclusively for solid waste management, with specific proportions earmarked to provide support for recycling, composting, solid waste source reduction, and other environmental programs related to the bottle bill."

"The actual allocation of the funds has been subject to the appropriation by each subsequent legislature," according to the site.

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