VPIRG organizes bottle drive to support local swim team

Our state’s Bottle Bill program has not only proven to be an amazing tool for recycling, but it also provides a resource for community groups, like the Waterbury Rapids Swim Team, who depend on bottle drives to help fund their programs. While 5 cents might not seem like a lot, it adds up for community groups across the state.

That’s the great thing about our state’s Bottle Bill program: not only are 85% of all the beverage containers covered under the program recycled, but it provieds an amazing resource for community groups, like the Rapids, to raise funds.That’s why VPIRG launched our Bigger Better Bottle Bill campaign in order to update the program to include more beverage containers, like bottled water and sports drink bottles.

This is why we’re helping the Rapids meet their summer goal – so we can have a clean environment and support our local community. Check out the Times Argus article about the bottle drive.

Article published Aug 10, 2011

VPIRG pushes bottle bill by helping swim team

By Keith Vance
Staff Writer

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Public Interest Research Group has launched a three-week campaign to raise money for a Waterbury swim team while creating awareness for the advocacy group’s “bigger better bottle bill.”
Folks who bring their empty bottles and cans to the Depot Beverage at 1 River Road in Waterbury can donate the deposit cash to the Waterbury Rapids Swim Team. A VPIRG field associate, Tyler Burgee, said $200 was raised in the first week of the campaign.

Folks who bring their empty bottles and cans to the Depot Beverage at 1 River Road in Waterbury can donate the deposit cash to the Waterbury Rapids Swim Team. A VPIRG field associate, Tyler Burgee, said $200 was raised in the first week of the campaign.

The swim team’s board president, Carol Baitz, said the team is trying to raise $7,000 to replace the starting blocks at the Waterbury pool. The current handcrafted wood blocks are at least 20 years old and need to be replaced, she said.

So far, the swim team has raised $320 from a car wash and $600 from a swim-a-thon. Baitz said the team has about $3,000 in the budget, so it’s at about $4,000 right now, not including the VPIRG money.

While the environmental group does want to help the swimmers raise the $7,000 for new starting blocks, it has an ulterior motive. The bigger goal for VPIRG is to raise awareness of the bottle deposit bill that the organization will be lobbying for in next year’s legislative session.

“We want to update the law” to include a deposit for water bottles and containers for noncarbonated beverages, such as Gatorade and wine, Burgee said.

VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns said, “We think the law ought to include other containers” — in particular, “containers that didn’t exist in 1972,” when the bottle deposit law was created.

Thirty-nine years ago, Vermonters weren’t drinking 16-ounce bottles of water, Burns said.

The organization estimates that if the bottle law is expanded, 82 million more cans and bottles will be recycled yearly. According to Burns, 85 percent of bottles that have the five-cent deposit are recycled at a redemption center.

And as for people who toss them into their residential recycling containers, Burns said there are two reasons that’s not as good as cashing them in for the deposit.

Burns said that when a glass bottle is tossed into the recycling with other material such as paper, it isn’t melted down and made into another bottle, but rather it’s crushed and used to make asphalt. That’s because in order to make another glass bottle, the glass can’t be contaminated — it has to be just glass.

Burns said it’s much better to use that glass bottle to make another glass bottle.

He also said that recycling rather than returning containers means the beverage companies in Vermont get to keep the deposit money, which VPIRG estimates amounts to somewhere between $2 million and $3 million a year.

Changing that, Burns said, is one of the key components of the “bigger better bottle bill.” The bill would allow the state government to have that unclaimed deposit money to use for environmental programs.

And besides, Burns said, “Who wants their nickel to go to Coke or Anheuser-Busch?”

Baitz said she was thrilled when the environmental group contacted the swim team to help with its fundraiser and to raise awareness for the effort to expand the bottle bill.

“I completely support the bottle bill,” Baitz said.

The campaign to donate bottle deposit proceeds to the swim team ends Aug. 22.

To learn more about VPIRG, visit http://www.vpirg.org. Information on the Waterbury Rapids Swim Team can be found at http://vtswim.org under “Swim leagues.”