Expanded bottle bill can help state
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.