Study Finds Bigger Better Bottle Bill is Win-Win

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2012

Bigger Better Bottle Bill Will Expand Recycling, Create Jobs, Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Improve State Finances, Study Finds

Montpelier, VT – Expanding Vermont’s Bottle Bill to certain non-carbonated beverage containers would be a win-win for our state’s environment and economy, according to a new study released today by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG).  Among the specific findings in Understanding the Impacts of Expanding Vermont’s Beverage Deposit Return Program: an additional 96.7 million bottles and cans would be recycled each year in Vermont.  View the study: [wpdm_package id=1]

State senators with Republican, Democratic, and Progressive Party affiliations joined VPIRG for the release of the study and to make clear their intentions to pass Bottle Bill legislation that they have sponsored this year.  Senate bills 176 and 195 would each expand the current bottle redemption program to include plastic water bottles and other beverage containers, and would allow the State to keep all unredeemed deposits.

“This study gives us the evidence to support what Vermonters have long believed – the Bottle Bill is great for our state and we can make it even better,” said Lauren Hierl, environmental health advocate for VPIRG. “It’s not surprising that we’re seeing such diverse support for expanded Bottle Bill legislation.  After all, it’s not often that a simple bill can promise to deliver a huge boost to recycling, reduced climate emissions, new green jobs, less litter and $3 million in new revenue for the state.”

“As we move toward a zero waste future, Vermont’s Bottle Bill can continue to be a big win for Vermont’s environment,” said Senator Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden), Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, “and keeping 100 million bottles and cans out of our rapidly-filling landfills each year reduces energy use and lowers greenhouse gas emissions.”

“We should be expanding successful programs like the Bottle Bill, which recycles millions of bottles and cans each year, while also putting Vermonters to work and putting more money in the pockets of local businesses like redemption centers and haulers,” said Senator Vincent Illuzzi (R-Essex-Orleans), Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.

“Given the economic challenges we face, Vermont could use every dollar it can get. The updated Bottle Bill would allow the State, rather than beverage corporations, to keep the unredeemed money from discarded beverage containers. Most states with bottle bills already do this. By keeping this money in State hands, Vermont will have several million more dollars available to fund jobs in recycling and other important programs,” said Senator Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington).

“After 40 years, updating the Bottle Bill just makes sense. We know the redemption program works: 85% of cans and bottles covered by the law are recycled today. It’s time we updated the program to include all the beverages that just didn’t exist four decades ago, like sports drinks and plastic water bottles,” said Senator Jeanette White (D-Windham), Chair of Senate Committee on Government Operations.  “Vermonters love the Bottle Bill and this is a simple thing we can do to make the law even better.”

“By expanding the bottle bill it gives monetary incentive to recycle more bottles and cans – I’ve been watching this for years and know that’s the case,” said Mike Marshall, Owner of Depot Beverage in Waterbury. “If they expand the bottle bill, it’s going to expand employment opportunities, including young adults, who are among the highest unemployed in the state. If I do twice as many bottles and cans, it’ll take twice as many hands to handle.”

CM Consulting – a firm specializing in solid waste and recycling issues – produced Understanding the Impacts of Expanding Vermont’s Beverage Deposit Return Program on VPIRG’s behalf. The study examined potential impacts of expanding Vermont’s bottle redemption program to cover plastic water bottles, juice, sports drinks, wine and hard cider, and shows that:

  • Expanding the Bottle Bill will lead to an estimated additional 84 million plastic bottles, 8.7 million glass bottles, and 4 million metal cans being recycled each year in Vermont.
  • Recycling these additional containers will save energy and remove greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 1,283 cars off the road for a year.
  • The expanded redemption program will create a net increase of 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the Vermont region.
  • By reducing litter and waste, costs to government, businesses, and the public will be reduced.
  • Approximately $1.27 million additional unredeemed revenue could be collected from discarded water, juice, sports drink, wine and cider containers. [Note, previous estimates have suggested that Vermont would gain revenue of approximately $2 million per year if the unredeemed deposits under the current law went to the state rather than the beverage industry.

“Vermont’s Bottle Bill recycling program is a clear success story, and expanding it to cover more containers is a common sense idea whose time has come,” said Hierl.

The expanded Bottle Bill legislation is currently in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Advocates for the legislation hope to see it taken up soon.

To view the study, click here:

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