Ex­panded bot­tle bill can help state

The News-Times - - OPINION -

The is­sue: Ev­ery nickel counts when you can’t see the ceil­ing of your debt, so Con­necti­cut is try­ing to dou­ble the bot­tle de­posit to a dime as of July 1, 2022. If passed, the pro­gram would also be ex­panded be­yond bottles con­tain­ing wa­ter and car­bon­ated bev­er­ages to in­clude juices, teas and sports and en­ergy drinks as of July 1, 2020. Con­necti­cut in­tro­duced the bot­tle bill in 1980, and ex­panded it a decade ago to in­clude bot­tled wa­ter. There have been failed pushes in the in­ter­ven­ing years to re­place it with a 4-per­cent tax, but it has been re­mained stuck in the era of Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter.

What we wrote: “... a 4 per­cent tax on the pur­chase of canned and bot­tled bev­er­ages would be a dis­as­ter. And a bill backed by Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy to raise the de­posit from a nickel to a dime of­fers noth­ing to con­sumers, but would, by the gover­nor’s es­ti­mate, bring in an ad­di­tional $12 mil­lion to the state, which gets all the un­claimed de­posit money. If nos­tal­gia is your thing, think back to the days be­fore Jan. 1, 1980, the date Con­necti­cut’s so-called bot­tle bill went into ef­fect. If the sight of curb­sides, hedges, empty lots and other fea­tures of ur­ban ter­rain lit­tered with crushed and crum­pled soda cans and

wa­ter bottles is your idea of the good old days, these bills are for you.” Edi­to­rial, April 21, 2017

“What is it about bub­bles that makes one bot­tle more valu­able than an­other? Seems like a silly ques­tion, but cur­rent law makes it so. Take an empty beer or soda bot­tle to the store, and they’ll give you a nickel for it. Take a wa­ter bot­tle, and they’ll point you to the near­est re­cy­cling bin.” Edi­to­rial, March 14, 2007

What’s new: A lot is new since 1980. Just con­sider how ubiq­ui­tous sports and en­ergy drinks have be­come in re­cent years. What hasn’t changed is the power of lob­by­ists to com­bat any­thing that jeop­ar­dizes prof­its. Based on how many re­sources they pour into lob­by­ing ef­forts, their profit mar­gins ap­pear to be fine. They are also suc­cess­ful, as Con­necti­cut re­mains one of only 11 states with re­demp­tion pro­grams.

What should hap­pen: HB 7294, which would be ef­fec­tive as of July 1, 2020, should pass. As re­demp­tion ef­forts have diminished in Con­necti­cut, re­cy­cling costs are in­creas­ing.

The math is sim­ple. More bottles in home re­cy­cling bins mean more work for towns. While Michi­gan, which has a

10-cent fee, recorded a

92-per­cent re­demp­tion rate in 2016, Con­necti­cut’s was down to 48.5 per­cent the same year.

Towns need to put the bins on a diet, which can be ac­com­plished by driv­ing more res­i­dents to seek re­demp­tion.

A higher fee would also de­liver true trickle-down eco­nom­ics, as res­i­dents and non­prof­its that col­lect bottles for profit would boost their income.

Of course, the bot­tom line is the $340 mil­lion in new bev­er­age con­tain­ers that are pro­jected. That’s a lot of nick­els.

Matthew Brown / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

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