Vermont could have as much as $2 million more to spend on improvements to the state’s water supply after Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill that allows the state to keep unclaimed deposits on beer, soda and liquor bottles.

The new law, S. 285, redirects unclaimed deposits from beverage manufacturers to clean water programs beginning in October 2019.

Vermont’s Bottle Bill program was passed in 1972, when the state began putting a nickel deposit on beer and soda containers and a fifteen cent deposit on liquor bottles.

According to Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which has long lobbied for changes to the Bottle Bill, consumers return three of every four bottles purchased to be recycled. “Unredeemed” deposits add up to more than $2 million a year, says VPIRG. 

Ten states collect deposits on certain beverages sold by retailers. Vermont is one of only three states that still gives away all of its unclaimed deposits to the beverage industry to offset their costs of managing the deposit return system.

Most states, including Massachusetts, use all or most of the unclaimed deposits to fund environmental programs.

“This is a win for recycling, for clean water, and for Vermont taxpayers too,” said Paul Burns, VPIRG’s executive director. “Recapturing the unclaimed deposits is the first step toward modernizing the Bottle Bill,”