Walmart and Target Customers May See a New Automatic Surcharge on Receipts Soon — Here’s What You Need to Know

published May 17, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Variety of energy drinks, soda, soft drinks, with various brands product in bottles and cans on the shelves in a grocery store supermarket.
Credit: Abdul Razak Latif / Shutterstock

In an effort to reduce public waste and plastic pollution, many states across the country have, in recent years, enacted or expanded upon a version of a container deposit law, or what is commonly referred to as a “bottle bill.” The purpose of the law is to incentivize consumers to recycle more and reduce litter by placing a refundable deposit on certain types of beverage containers.

Currently there are 10 states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Vermont) with variations of the bill that mostly impact the purchase of spirits, malt beverages, and soft drinks. Representatives for the State of Vermont, however, are in talks to expand the bill to include bottled water, juices, and packaged sports drinks. Wine bottles, which currently do not require a deposit, would also join the lineup and include a 15-cent charge. Milk and other dairy products, infant formula, meal replacement drinks, and non-alcoholic cider, however, would all still be clear from the new changes. If approved, the new changes will go into effect in 2027.

For those unfamiliar with the bill, retailers like Target and Walmart charge shoppers a fee of usually 5 or 10 cents when the aforementioned beverages are purchased. Then, once you’re done with them, you can return the bottle to a store that sells the same type of drink purchased to receive the money back. Meaning, if a particular beverage is sold exclusively at a particular retailer, you can only take it back to that retailer to redeem your deposit.

While other states that currently have their own versions of the bill have not announced their own changes, it’s only a matter of time before they adopt the changes as well. Additionally, if your state does not currently have a bottle bill, don’t consider yourself in the clear just yet — a number of unidentified states are said to currently be working on their versions of the bill, too.

Shoppers of major superstores such as Walmart and Target should stay informed about the changes coming to their states. It was not too long ago that Walmart announced a “ban”  on single-use plastic bags, with Target announcing their version of their own shortly thereafter. Although both retailers haven’t technically banned single-use bags, the announced changes haven’t gone over too well with their customer bases. And the case of the newly implemented and expanded bottle bill seems to be in the same boat, as the marketed initiative to promote recycling is being perceived by many as simply a tax on the working class. 

To find out more information about the bottle bill or to understand the proposed changes in Vermont, visit www.bottlebill.org and the Vermont General Assembly.