Maryland businesses will take another hit this year if legislation is approved in the General Assembly to have customers pay a 5 cent refundable deposit on cans and bottles bought in the state.
While the bill, planned by Del. Maggie McIntosh a Democrat from Baltimore City, is touted as an environment measure aimed at increasing recycling, it will also have considerable economic ramifications for customers and businesses alike. The Maryland Retailers Association said in a statement the proposal would be a new tax on consumers and it called the measure an “ill-conceived, outdated and ineffective approach to encourage recycling.”
According to the Baltimore Business Journal the bill is expected to triple the percentage of cans and bottles that are recycled in Maryland to as much as 75 percent. Currently, about 22 percent of 4 billon cans and bottles bought in the state each year are recycled.
Although it is difficult to oppose efforts to improve the state’s recycling programs, piling on a 5-cent deposit on cans and bottles is certain to drive up soft drink and beer prices. Anytime prices go up on beverages or cigarettes, Maryland drives more customers across state lines to buy their products where the costs are not as great.
Deposit bills have been defeated previously in the General Assembly. This year, McIntosh plans to make the program voluntary in the hopes of having her measure win approval. Retailers won’t have to participate in the recycling program, although McIntosh said she expects that many will.
That is another problem with the legislation. Some stores will add the deposit, some will not. Consumers, meanwhile, will be thoroughly confused.
There are other ways to encourage bottle and can recycling in the state. Senators and delegates should focus on those alternatives and once again scrap the deposit bill.