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CT may see expansion and update to bottle redemption

HARTFORD — Connecticut has a trash problem.

Lawmakers say it’s not unrealistic to expect a 90 percent recycle rate on bottles and cans, but it means you may pay a little extra when you buy a beverage.

Connecticut is one of only 11 states to have a bottle bill, but its more than 40 years old and hasn’t been updated since. Of those 11 states, Connecticut has the lowest rate of return for recycling at 49 percent.

House Bill 7294 would increase the bottle deposit from 5-cents to 10-cents and expand the list of redeemable items to include sports drinks, non carbonated juices and teas.

A lot of people don’t know what a bottle bill does and how it works. In Connecticut, a retailer buys drinks from a distributor. They pay a 5-cent deposit. When you buy from the retailer, you pay the 5-cent deposit.

You are essentially reimbursing the retailer. When you recycle you get your money back, while the money from inevitably un-recycled bottles goes back to the state.

Sen. Christine Cohen, a Democrat form the 12th Distrct said, “We brought all stakeholders to the table. Keeping everybody in mind and giving everyone a piece of the pie. But most importantly what it does is increase redemption rates and increases recycling rates and gets the trash out of the blue bins.”

Jennifer Heaton-Jones of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority said, “We need more redemption centers and in order for that to happen they need to be compensated to cover their costs. They haven’t seen an increase in the handling fee in decades.”

The other key part of this bill would give an additional 3 and a half cent handling fee to redemption centers in the hopes of making them more profitable so more will open and it will give easier recycling access to people.

As written, this bill does not put a deposit on alcohol or nips but Gov. Lamont has proposed his own 5 cents deposit on nips, 25 cent deposit on regular liquor bottles and a tax on sugary drinks.

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