Watchdog Agency Calls For Changes To Bottle Deposit Law

May 24, 2018

The legislature’s watchdog agency is recommending that lawmakers do a comprehensive review of the state’s bottle deposit law, passed first by voters at referendum in 1976.

The office of Program Evaluation And Government Accountability reviewed the history and operations of the bottle deposit law, and it concluded that lawmakers need to consider several changes to make the law work more efficiently. The report suggests several improvements in data collection and recommends changing language in the current law that it found to be confusing.

The report also recommends that the state collect more data to better assess how the program is working. OPEGA Director Beth Ashcroft told the Government Oversight Committee she could not answer their questions because of a lack of data.

“Think of the old Maine house, that you had the house attached to the barn and everything keeps getting attached to it because you got a little more money,” said Sen. Tom Saviello, a republican from Wilton who serves on the Oversight Committee. “That’s the bottle bill. It’s a mess.”

Saviello says the next legislature should review the law from top to bottom.

“The only way I believe that we can improve it and change it is to have a third party, non-partisan review and that’s what we got today," he said. "And I think they have made some great recommendations for us to follow up on.”