As a child growing up in southern Vermont I spent many afternoons collecting cans and bottles from friends and neighbors. This was a great way to make a little extra spending money, and to help clean things up a bit. This is an experience I am sure that thousands of Vermonters are personally familiar with since 8 out of 10 Vermonters take the time to redeem their cans and bottles.
Vermont’s Bottle Bill is the state’s oldest and most successful recycling program, and has worked as a model for states across the country. Vermonters love their Bottle Bill, and for good reason. Polls show that over 90% of Vermonters support the Bottle Bill in its current form, and more than 85% would support expanding it to cover other containers such as water bottles and sports drinks.
Unfortunately our Bottle Bill is under attack from Coca-Cola and the beverage industry. They want to get off the hook for the waste they create. Their plan for Vermont is pay fees for a short period of time, throw out the state’s most successful recycling program, and eliminate their responsibility to collect their bottles and cans.
Vermont’s Bottle Bill captures between 75 and 90% of all deposit bottles sold in the state. In contrast, only about a quarter of non-deposit containers are recycled through curbside recycling systems. The Bottle Bill has also created jobs in communities across the state with more than 100 redemption centers from Alburgh to Brattleboro. Any effort to eliminate the Bottle Bill is an effort to eliminate jobs for hard working Vermonters, and put more bottles and cans in landfills.
This attack is just one more example of how Coke is consistently working against the best interests of the people of Vermont. This year Coke has spent more than $5,000,000 in lobbying expenditures related to stopping GMO labeling in Congress. Last year alone the American Beverage Association spent just under $700,000 in Vermont primarily fighting anti-obesity policies on behalf of Coca-Cola. And, year after year Coke pours money into attacking the Bottle Bill in Vermont and across the country.
This is the wrong direction for Vermont. We should follow 7 of the other 9 states with Bottle Bills by keeping the millions of dollars from unclaimed deposits here in Vermont instead of handing them over to the beverage industry. There is a real need to support Vermont’s developing statewide recycling program, and what better way to do that than take the money Vermonters have already spent on their bottle deposits and put it to work helping build the infrastructure needed to meet our goals as a state.