Environmentalists and policy makers started the month of June on a high note as the Connecticut Senate passed an amendment to the long withstanding bottle bill. Since first enacted in 1978, Connecticut’s bottle bill has produced billions in the state’s economy and amplified the recycling industry. However, over the past two decades the redemption rate has declined staggered at around 50%. “Our cities and towns are now paying to throw away thousands and thousands of pounds of cans and bottles,” said Sen. Christine Cohen. The lack of participation in the container redemption program has resulted in the state paying companies to haul out cans and bottles to neighboring states costing them a fortune. Her remark strongly resonated on the floor as the debate began. So, what can be done to encourage and incentivize individuals to partake in the sustainable closed loop system?
Room for Growth
There is significant room for improvement in Connecticut’s recycling system. Single stream recycling has been the default method an alternative to this type of container deposit system for decades. Although the convenience of throwing everything into one bin and placing it on the curbside for collection is unsurpassed, the simple act of sorting out recyclables can make a phenomenal environmental and economic impact in the long haul. Tradeoffs can include strengthening states economies, receiving cash for partaking in this practice, and additionally reducing the amount of plastics/containers that end up in roadsides and waterways.
A Hopeful Outlook for the State
This amendment, once put into effect in January of 2024, will provide the long-awaited solution for the state. For starters, the bottle redemption rate would increase from $0.05 to $0.10. The benefits of increasing the monetary incentives can been seen in states including Oregon, Michigan ($0.10) and Maine ($0.15). Oregon’s redemption rate in 2019 was close to 90%, closely followed by Michigan’s (89%). These states have successfully managed and maintained recycling systems for decades with the majority of funds stemming directly from this industry.
Along with the price increase, additional funding will be provided to open up multiple redemption centers throughout the state, especially underserved communities, providing further accessibility for residents. It was noted in discussion on the floor that they would like to strongly enable and provide opportunities for women and minorities within this system consisting of employment at redemption centers. To compliment all of this, several types of containers will now be accepted including tea’s, water bottles, and sports drink containers starting in January 2023. Alcoholic retailers will now be able to receive a share of unredeemed deposits (escheats) that would otherwise be diverted to the state’s general fund.
It is now in the hands of Connecticut residents to realize the vitality of a system such as this and hopefully we will see redemption numbers increase as this goes into effect. In the meantime, it is important to educate and communicate the value of these practices. If you have any questions regarding Bottle Bills or Connecticut’s amendment, feel free to reach out to us!
Please support the Virginia Bottle Bill Organization by signing our petition here and consider donating to our cause.