AUGUSTA, MAINE, DEC. 24 -- Maine consumers will become the nation's busiest recyclers next Monday, when the state's bottle deposit law is expanded to include nearly all non-dairy beverage containers.

For more than a decade, Maine residents have been paying deposits on beer and soda containers under a law designed to reduce litter. A comprehensive solid waste law expanded the "bottle law" this year to include liquor and wine bottles. Aseptic containers, or "juice boxes," were banned in Maine as of September.

As of Dec. 31, the bottle law will include all non-carbonated juice containers holding a gallon or less. Deposits are 5 cents, except on liquor and wine bottles, which carry a 15-cent deposit.

Excluded are containers for milk and other dairy products, cider, cough syrup, sauces, baby formula, soup and vinegar.

Maine's new law, considered the nation's most expansive, will increase by as much as 50 percent the 600 million tons of beverage containers already in the recycling stream, according to Denise Lord of the Maine Waste Management Agency.

Other states are watching carefully to see how Maine's law works out, said Pat Franklin of the National Container Recycling Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group. Various components of Maine's law have been adopted in other states, but Maine's law is the most comprehensive, she said.