Overwhelming support for expanded Bottle Bill at public hearing

At a public hearing concerning a draft report on Vermont’s Bottle Bill and single-stream recycling programs, dozens of Vermonters – everyone from redemption center owners to environmentalists to community groups – called on the Agency of Natural Resources to expand Vermont’s Bottle Bill.  Proponents of expanding this successful recycling program spoke for over an hour, and the lone voice in opposition was a paid lobbyist from the beverage industry.

“The Bottle Bill works to get people to recycle like nothing else we have going,” said Lauren Hierl, VPIRG Environmental Health Advocate. “Even this new analysis shows you recycle the most materials – and we’re talking about hundreds of millions of beverage containers, you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and have significantly less litter with an expanded Bottle Bill.”

Among those present in full force, were redemption center owners, many of whom made the case for the value of jobs created by the Bottle Bill.  Bob Coloutti of Terrill Street Discount Beverage, a redemption center in Rutland, reminded ANR “The redemption program provides strong employment across Vermont. It employs a lot of people who might have a tough time finding other jobs. If it went away, a lot of places and a lot of jobs would go away with it. We should be expanding redemption and growing jobs.”

Also present were many community groups who use bottle drives to help fund their work.  Sue Skaskiw of Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals spoke, adding “Bottle drive funding is vital to my organization’s efforts to help others. Donations help us protect animals whose care-providers are unable to afford the costs of critical medical care, food, and shelter for animals in need. Our deep gratitude goes out to those who donate bottles and cans to make our work possible, and we appreciate how the Bottle Bill helps us fund this important work.”

The broad support for expanding the Bottle Bill was clear even beyond the crowd assembled.  “I have props,” said Liz Edsell, VPIRG Field Director, holding a foot-tall stack of petitions signed by Vermonters from across the state.  “It’s not just those here today who care.  I have here – not hundreds, but THOUSANDS of petition signatures – gathered online, by our summer canvass team, and at redemption centers from every corner of the state.  They all say: the Bottle Bill works and should be expanded to include all single-use beverage containers.”

The Agency of Natural Resources is accepting written comments on the draft report until the end of March.  Click here to submit your comments today.