On April 15, the Vermont House signed off on the sweeping recycling reform. By adding bottled water, juices, sports drinks, wine and certain craft alcohols to the list of redeemable beverage containers included in the bottle law, lawmakers say H.175 would double the number of beverage containers eligible for redemption, and then recycling, in the state. The bill would impose a 5-cent redeemable deposit on the slate of new beverage containers.

Legislators gave impassioned arguments for and against the recycling reforms in a four-hour debate ahead of the House’s vote.  “We live in a throwaway society, and the volume of waste discarded by each one of us is embarrassing,” Rep. Scott Campbell, D-St. Johnsbury, said on the virtual House floor Thursday afternoon. “This is a step — a small step  — toward taking responsibility for reducing our waste stream.”

The lower chamber later voted 99-46 to grant initial approval of the legislation. A final vote is expected Friday, after which the bill would move to the Senate. First enacted in 1973, Vermont’s bottle law mandated a 5- to 15-cent deposit on some beverages, which people could redeem at stores and redemption centers by returning disposable containers after they were used. The law cut down substantially on littering and helped increase recycling in its early years.

But as new kinds of single-use beverage containers have entered the market in recent decades, environmental groups have pushed the legislature to broaden the list of containers covered by the law. The bottle law was amended to include liquor bottles in the 1990s but has otherwise remained the same as the original 1973 law. Conservationists have pushed for an expansion on the grounds that it would cut down on fracking and increase the number of new containers made from reused materials. Redeemed containers are cleaner — and thus easier to make into new bottles— than single-stream recyclables.

To read the full story, visit https://vtdigger.org/2021/04/15/vermont-house-approves-sweeping-reforms-to-1970s-bottle-redemption-law/.
Author: James Finn, VTDigger
Image: Glenn Russell, VTDigger