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On Earth Day, CT Environmentalists Rally to Modernize Bottle-Deposit Bill

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According to the Connecticut River Conservancy, beverage cans and bottles are the top trash items found in the Connecticut River. A new bottle-return bill hopes to change that, by incentivizing people to redeem more bottles. (Adobe Stock)
According to the Connecticut River Conservancy, beverage cans and bottles are the top trash items found in the Connecticut River. A new bottle-return bill hopes to change that, by incentivizing people to redeem more bottles. (Adobe Stock)
 By Michayla Savitt - Producer, Contact
April 22, 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A coalition of Connecticut groups and lawmakers in support of new state bottle-deposit legislation are rallying in honor of Earth Day to raise awareness about reducing plastic waste.

Senate Bill 1037 in part raises the deposit value to 10 cents, creates more return sites, and expands what kind of containers can be returned for money.

Louis Rosado Burch, Connecticut program director at the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the existing bottle bill was last changed in 2009, and the new one includes miniature alcohol bottles, along with plastic juice and sports-drink containers, which would help issues of street and water pollution.

"One of the key components of the bottle bill is the fact that it helps to actually reduce litter, cuts down on litter," Rosado Burch explained. "Because it puts a financial incentive to recycle for every container."

Rosado Burch pointed out similar bills have been proposed and passed through the state Environment Committee, but didn't get called and voted on in the legislative session, in part, he noted, because beverage distributors and waste haulers opposed the increased handling fee.

The bill's 3.5 cent handling fee would provide additional income for redemption centers, among other aid.

"Municipalities are no longer able to afford the cost of managing all of our solid waste and recyclables," Rosado Burch contended. "What the bottle bill does is, it puts the onus on the beverage industry to pay their fair share of recycling this waste that blights our communities."

In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found that the state's modernized bottle bill saved municipalities $4.2 million to $6.9 million in avoided disposal and cleanup costs.

Rosado Burch asserted if passed, Phase One of the bill would increase consumer convenience.

"We think this bill is going to be a game changer between putting bottle machines in all of the chain pharmacies, Dollar Tree, these types of stores, which are already currently required by law to accept the containers that they sell for redemption," Rosado Burch observed.

He added with the amount of support from groups and lawmakers, including Gov. Ned Lamont, he's optimistic the bill will pass this session. The rally will take place from noon to 1:00 p.m. today on the south Capitol steps.

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