Opposition mounts to proposed expansion of Vermont ‘bottle bill’

Local News

Vermont lawmakers are considering a bill that would update a nearly 50-year-old recycling law. 

The state’s ‘bottle bill’ was created in 1972 to address littering and encourage more people to recycle beverage containers. The proposed bill, H. 175, would increase the deposit on beverage containers, except liquor bottles, from a nickel to 10 cents, and expand the law’s provisions to cover liquor, wine and water bottles, sports drinks and containers for most noncarbonated and carbonated drinks.

Paul Burns, executive director of Vermont Public Interest Research Group, says the current law “only covers about 46 percent of beverages that are sold in Vermont today.

“Maine covers 91 percent of beverage containers sold there, so covers twice as many beverages as Vermont does,” he noted.

While Vermont trails behind other states, retailers and waste professionals don’t see a need to catch up. 

“We ask members of the house to vote “no” on H.175. An expanded bottle bill will make recycling in Vermont more expensive for all Vermonters by taking away valuable material that is already being recycled through single streamed curbside and recycling programs,” says Kim Crosby, Manager of Casella Waste Systems.

Opponents says Bill H.175 would also cause supply-chain challenges for small businesses. President and Co-founder of Citizen Cider Justin Heilenbach says he would need to manufacture new cans because of the redemption label.  

“For anyone selling a wine or a cider in the state of Vermont, you’ll need to find this new lid and we already can’t get the lid and canned bodies that we’re looking for,” said Heilenbach.

But Burns says the bill ensures that more items such as glass and single-use plastic is reused again and again. 

The glass is much harder to market and much, much harder to turn into new glass bottles again. Whereas, if you bring it back for redemption, it is 99 percent likely to turn into a new bottle again,” said Burns.

The house will vote on the bill this week. It will go through a second reading Thursday and – if passed – a final reading will take place Friday.

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