The Vermont House Committee on Ways and Means gave its strong approval to legislation on Friday that would update and substantially expand the scope of the state’s beverage redemption program, commonly known as the Bottle Bill. The vote in favor of H.158 was 9-3 and follows the House Energy and Environment’s 10-1 endorsement of the bill.
The Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) has been one of the leading proponents of modernizing the Bottle Bill for many years, and we applauded the passage of the legislation and highlighted several of its key attributes:
- Promotes clean air, clean water, and a cooler climate by collecting many more containers each year to be recycled into new products again.
- Makes the current redemption system more convenient by adding more points of redemption around the state.
- Reduces challenges facing Vermont businesses like redemption centers and small and medium-sized retailers.
“The Bottle Bill has been Vermont’s most successful recycling and anti-litter program for the past 50 years,” said Marcie Gallagher, VPIRG’s Environmental Advocate. “But many of the most popular beverages today didn’t exist in 1972 when the program was established. It’s time to update the law as nearly every other state with a bottle deposit program has done.”
Vermont’s Bottle Bill covers about 46 percent of beverages sold here. By contrast, Maine’s program has been updated so that it covers more than 90 percent of beverages.
It’s estimated that over ten billion containers have been recycled through Vermont’s Bottle Bill program since it was first implemented. The system has consistently maintained redemption rates of 75% or greater, even when national recycling rates have plummeted. And while virtually every container returned for redemption through the Bottle Bill is recycled into another product (often a new beverage container), the same cannot be said for much of the material Vermonters dutifully place in the recycling bins each week.
New beverages that would be covered by the law beginning in January 2027 include bottled water, hard cider, sports drinks, wine and more.
The updated law would also ensure that all communities with 7,000 or more people are serviced by a redemption center, and there would have to be at least three redemption locations per county.
“We’ve been fighting to update the Bottle Bill for decades,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG, who noted that both VPIRG and the Bottle Bill came to be in 1972. “This legislation finally delivers for the environment, for consumers, and for small businesses in the state.”
Beverage redemption programs are increasingly popular worldwide, particularly as nations grapple with the mounting problem of plastic pollution. Approximately 600 million people now live in areas covered by Bottle Bills. That number has doubled in the last five years.
# # #