Vermont’s Bottle Bill is our state’s most successful recycling and litter prevention program. Thanks to the Bottle Bill, we recycle more than 75% of beverage containers with the nickel deposit, while only recycling about 36% of other containers. By updating the Bottle Bill to cover additional beverages like bottled water and juices, we can keep an estimated 100 million more bottles and cans out of Vermont’s landfills and off our roadsides every year.

And while five cents may not seem like a lot of money, it adds up for groups like Cub Scouts, Humane Societies, Little Leagues, and many other community groups who hold bottle drives to raise money for their programs. For some groups in Vermont, this accounts for thousands of dollars of income each year.

Here are ten reasons why Vermont should expand the Bottle Bill:

  1. Almost 100 million more beverage containers will be recycled each year. Recycling rates through the Bottle Bill are more than double what Vermont sees through our curbside and drop-off recycling programs.
  2. Captures beverage containers for recycling away-from-home. Deposit return is designed to incentivize collection no matter where someone drinks their beverage –- at work, in transit, at school, or on the street. Expansion would greatly reduce problems associated with bottles, especially plastic waste bottles, discarded away from household recycling bins.  Provides an incentive for businesses like bars and restaurants to recycle, which improves the overall recycling in Vermont.
  3. Municipalities save money because they have to collect and process less material – less waste, and less heavy and contaminating glass to collect. Expansion will further reduce the municipal cost burden.
  4. The beverage industry, and polluting consumers that do not redeem their containers, pay for recycling beverage containers rather than taxpayers.  This example of producer responsibility should be extended to other beverages like non-carbonated drinks. While this may be considered as a cost issue, what is important is who pays.
  5. Charities in Vermont have raised important financial contributions from bottle drives in communities across the state. Repealing the bottle bill would reduce fundraising opportunities, while expansion would mean more containers could be collected and redeemed.
  6. Bottle deposits reduce littering of used beverage containers by 70%-80% (by volume), and reduce total litter by 30%-40%. In a study conducted for the American Beverage Association, Vermont’s litter rate for containers with a deposit is lower than rates for the same containers in neighboring New Hampshire, where there is no deposit.
  7. Containers are truly recycled, rather than being “downcycled” into a single-use material like landfill cover. For example, the clean glass collected in Vermont’s bottle redemption program offers high-value, environmentally-friendly recycling options like bottle-to-bottle and fiberglass. Single stream recycling compresses, breaks and renders a large portion of glass un-usable for recycling . Further, the redemption system recycles greater quantities of glass and keeps it clean throughout the process. By keeping this glass out of the single-stream recycling program, less will be lost to the landfill during sorting and other processing.
  8. Less contamination of other recyclables like paper and plastics when fewer materials and particularly glass end up in household single stream recycling systems. This produces more valuable end products, like recovered plastic, paper, and glass for use by domestic manufacturers.
  9. Can create additional infrastructure for other waste diversion initiatives. For example, some redemption centers could extend their collection services to include take-back of certain household special waste, like old computers, mercury containing devices, batteries, and so on.
  10. Creates hundreds of sustainable “green jobs” across the state. More jobs are created when a state has both single-stream and a redemption program, than with just one or the other.

We hope you will join us in our efforts to make Vermont an even better place to live by expanding our state’s most effective recycling program.