Media Contacts
Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

Bladensburg, MD: 40 Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) volunteers hosted a litter cleanup of the Bladensburg waterfront this morning to illustrate the problem of recyclable bottle litter. They were joined by State Senator Brian Frosh, Julie Lawson from the Trash Free Maryland Alliance, and Bladensburg Councilmen Chris Mendoza. The event is part of Maryland PIRG’s Don’t Trash Maryland Campaign, which is working to increase recycling and reduce litter by passing a Maryland bottle bill.

This summer alone, 1 billion recyclable beverage containers in Maryland will end up as trash or litter instead of being recycled. “Our low recycling rate means more leaky landfills, dirtier air from incinerators, and more litter and litter cleanup costs,” said Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG State Advocate. “As Gov. Martin O’Malley points out in his newly launched comprehensive climate plan, less than 25 percent of our bottles and cans are being recycled. Maryland can do better”

Volunteers took to canoes to remove litter from the banks of the Anacostia River, and within an hour had filled up over a dozen large trash bags. They then separated out the recyclable containers from other litter, creating a huge pile of recyclable containers.

“The vast majority of the trash we’re finding is bottles, like beer bottles and cans, and water bottles” said cleanup volunteer Jessica Larson, “I’d rather that we not need volunteers to clean up our waterways so we could spend time enjoying them. The bottle bill makes sense to me as a way to increase recycling and reduce unnecessary waste and litter.”

Julie Lawson explains, “Beverage bottles and cans comprise half or more of the litter polluting our urbanized waterways. Incentivizing container recycling with a refundable deposit will be a game changer in cleaning up our rivers and neighborhoods.”

Every year 3 billion bottles and cans are trashed in Maryland while less than 1 billion are recycled. The bottle bill is a redeemable deposit on recyclable beverage containers, usually 5-cents.

 “The Bottle Bill has the potential to triple Maryland’s recycling rate on plastic, aluminum, and glass containers.” Explained State Senator Brian Frosh, “It is a tried and true program that has worked for decades in other states, and it will keep bottles and cans from littering our neighborhoods, parks, and waterways.”

 “The 10 states with bottle bills have container recycling rates triple ours and have all seen major reductions in litter. A 2011 impact analysis by the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center asserts that ‘beverage container deposit programs have proven to be the most effective tool for reducing litter,’” said Scarr. “Maryland PIRG applauds Governor O’Malley, State Senator Frosh, and Delegate Maggie McIntosh for supporting the bottle bill.”

Maryland PIRG, the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest advocacy organization that takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and well-being.