MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Lawmakers in Montpelier are talking trash– they’re considering expanding Vermont’s bottle bill. But more cash for your cans could cause some complications.
Jim Breer of Barre Town is a big fan of sports drinks. He goes through a case every month or so. Right now, there is no deposit on those types of beverages, so all he can do is throw them in Vermont’s single-stream blue bins, a separate waste stream.
A proposal at the Statehouse would let Breer cash in his bottles, along with water and wine bottles. And he’d get 10 cents instead of five.
“It picks up all of these new containers with a few exceptions that we were never able to capture in 1972 because they didn’t exist,” said Rep. Jim McCullough, D-Williston.
Vermont has two parallel recyclable waste streams: single stream blue bins and redemption machines or centers. Both streams ultimately make their way into the recycling market.
“It’s sort of a choose your own adventure that somebody gets to make when they finish that soda bottle,” said John Leddy, the executive director of the Northwest Vermont Solid Waste Management District.
The bill could mean more bottles make their way to redemption centers and small grocery stores, and fewer into the single-stream blue bins, many of which make their way to Casella Waste Systems in Rutland.
Casella Vice President Joe Fusco says the bill could have unintended consequences for Vermont’s recycling infrastructure.
“When you have high fixed costs because of that infrastructure and you put fewer materials through it because of being taken out by bottle bills, it ultimately makes recycling more expensive for Vermonters,” Fusco said.
Republican lawmakers say they share that concern and that the redemption waste stream would require more trucking and shipping, furthering our carbon emissions.
Back in Barre, Breer says having a bigger cash incentive on more products would encourage more recycling, especially when he says some aren’t recycling at all.
“I had people I used to give the devil to, they used to throw it out the window. I’d rather they throw it in my back seat and I recycle it for them,” he said.
Ultimately, this bill could land on Gov. Phil Scott’s desk. He says he is concerned about the impact on consumers, especially given inflation. Instead, he says lawmakers should be focusing on tax relief proposals to help Vermonters.
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