WNPR

Ideas Abound About Ways To Change, Or Eliminate, Connecticut's "Bottle Bill"

Mar 15, 2017

Changes to Connecticut's "bottle bill" continue to be discussed by lawmakers. The debate centers around whether a recycling system developed decades ago is still viable.

As curbside recycling has grown and modernized, lawmakers are asking this: does it still make sense to take used soda, water, or beer containers back to where you bought them to get back five cents?

"Instead of having this loop system of nickels, the thought is that we develop a loop system of these commodities under one model, where we're assisting people to retool," said Environment Committee co-chair Craig Miner.

Miner is referring to one legislative proposal: eliminating the five-cent deposit entirely, and replacing it with a four cent "fee" at point of purchase.

Some of that money would get set aside to build out Connecticut's curbside recycling infrastructure. It's a model that was used, for a limited time, in the state of Delaware.

Speaking to the Environment Committee, Fred Meirs, owner of a bottle and can redemption center in Stratford, said the bottle bill shouldn't get tossed entirely. "It needs to be repaired and modernized to today's standards," he said.

Meirs supports another idea -- increasing the amount of money paid to businesses like his for taking back old cans.

He told legislators stagnation of the handling fee has caused several redemption centers to close.

As WNPR has reported, for over 30 years, that "handling fee" has stayed flat, while container redemption rates in Connecticut have declined.

Meanwhile, Governor Dannel Malloy is proposing another idea: increasing certain bottle deposits to ten cents.

Since 2009, the state has kept any unclaimed bottle deposit money, a law which has netted tens of millions of dollars in revenue annually.