Expanded bottle bill heads to state Senate

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Is your local park littered with those tiny liquor bottles called nips? State lawmakers are looking to expand the bottle bill in an effort to encourage more people to recycle.

But not everyone is sold on the concept in HB 1037. Just steps from the Capitol city playscape at Bushnell Park in Hartford has sadly become a place for litterbugs.

Democrat State Representative Ken Gucker on the Environment Committee lives in Danbury but he sees the same litter in his city. “It’s sad people throw things out the window for convenience.”

This is why lawmakers are looking to double the deposit on bottles and cans from five cents to ten cents beginning next year. And they are adding in those small liquor bottles called nips.

State Senator Christine Cohen the Democratic Co-Chair of the Environment Committee said, “Increasing the deposit amount incentivizes redemption and cleans up the streets.”

The expanded bottle bill does not attach a deposit charge to glass liquor and wine bottles. Lawmakers removed that idea after heavy lobbying from the package store owners. Compromise language calls for an agreement between the industry and the state Energy and Environmental Protection Agency on how they will process 80 percentof wine and liquor bottles sold in the state.

Republicans voted against the bill saying there are no redemption machines to handle nips. They say store owners will be forced to handle the empties and pay out the deposit. They’re also concerned about “border fraud.”

Right now, New York and Massachusetts have a five-cent bottle deposit. Republican’s on the committee including State Representative Stephen Harding say they fear folks will try and redeem bottles in our state for the higher price, ultimately costing Connecticut businesses.

State Representative Stephen Harding wants a more well-rounded approach. “In order to address the waste crisis we have in this state, it needs to be a holistic approach,” added Harding.

Supporters say consumers can redeem deposits at the store where they purchased the items. Redemption centers will get a monetary boost in the bill. But looming, how to avoid a cost shift to cities and towns – which pay more to get rid of trash when people don’t recycle.

Democrat State Representative Mary Mushinsky from Wallingford who has been working to modernize this state law for years says it’s really about those tipping fees.”I hope liquor bottles are dealt with to get weight out of waste stream – so we aren’t shipping it 500 miles away.”

Co-Chair State Senator Cohen of Guilford understands what’s at stake. “Municipalities are at a breaking point we must act now.”

In the bill grocery stores and big-box stores would be required to have two of those reverse vending machines to handle nips by the year 2022. The final bill will head to the Senate.

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