A bottle bill passed by the Vermont Senate could change who gets money from unclaimed deposits. Vermont-based Farrell Distributing works with redemption centers and third-party collectors to recycle bottles and cans.

“Since the bottle bill was enacted in 1972, it was our responsibility to manage the system,” said Todd Bouton, the general manager at Farrell’s.

He said this costs the company millions of dollars in contracting, trucking, equipment and manpower. Ten percent of those costs are being covered by the state’s unclaimed bottle deposits.

That money could be taken away from Farrell and other distributors and manufactures if the state Senate has its way.

Sen. Anthony Pollina has been trying to amend the bottle bill for 10 years. He wants the money to go to the state, not big businesses like Coca-Cola and local distributors.

“I think it’s taken a long time because the beverage industry has a lot of power in this building, quite honestly. So they’ve been very resistant to the proposal,” Pollina said.

Vermonters leave about $2.5 million a year worth of deposits unclaimed. The amendment states the money would go to the general fund, which means the appropriations committee would decide how the money is spent.

Although that money could be spent on anything in the state, Pollina hopes it goes toward funding environmental, universal recycling and composting programs.

“It’s really internal politics, kind of thing. It’s how the system works,” Pollina said.

Coca-Cola, along with other manufacturers, has come out against the amendment. The company said they already use unclaimed deposit money to fund recycling projects and educate Vermonters about recycling. In a statement, Coca-Cola said they “manage this costly and outdated system, while supporting hundreds of good-paying, local jobs.”

Pollina told WCAX News he hasn’t seen any evidence of Coca-Cola encouraging recycling in Vermont. He said the company has enough money to fund those initiatives itself.

“Two-point-five million dollars to Vermonters is a significant amount of money that we can invest locally, so it’s important that Vermonters make the decision about how they want to spend it,” he said.

Bouton said distributing companies like Farrell are the ones that really need the money.

To read the full story, visit http://www.wcax.com/content/news/Vermont-lawmakers-consider-Bottle-Bill-amendment-479086003.html.