Last week marked “crossover,” where most bills need to be passed out of committee to remain alive for this legislative session. VPIRG members made phone calls and sent hundreds of emails to their Senators urging the Senate Natural Resource & Energy committee to pass the expanded Bottle Bill out of committee by the Friday, March 16 crossover deadline.
These efforts paid off! The Senate Natural Resources committee heard testimony from a panel of witnesses, including Senator Anthony Pollina – a lead sponsor of Bigger Better Bottle Bill legislation, VPIRG, recycling experts, Seventh Generation, and two local redemption center owners. Each witness laid out a number of compelling reasons why the legislature should expand the Bottle Bill this year, and put Vermont on a path toward recycling millions more bottles and cans each year. The Senate committee was receptive to these ideas, and in fact the committee is chaired by Senator Ginny Lyons, who is a lead sponsor of the updated Bottle Bill legislation.
Unfortunately, the committee did not have enough time to debate and pass this legislation by the end of this week. However, we live to fight another day! As you may have heard, the House passed a solid waste bill that, among other things, mandates recycling in Vermont in the coming years. VPIRG believes there is no more effective way to immediately improve our state’s recycling rate than by expanding our most successful recycling program – the Bottle Bill – to cover additional beverage containers. Additionally, the legislation would allow the state, rather than beverage industry, to keep unredeemed nickels. As the state looks at ways to increase recycling, such funding could be more important than ever. So, we will seek to include these measures to expand the Bottle Bill within the solid waste bill. We’ll let you know when the next opportunity arises to let the legislature know that NOW is the time to pass the Bigger Better Bottle Bill!
In the meantime, check out the VPR news story about the Doyle poll, showing broad and enthusiastic support for expanding the Bottle Bill!