Bottle Deposit Law Comes Up For Debate

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(Host) A question about whether Vermont should expand its bottle deposit law is coming up for discussion at the Statehouse. A tri-partisan coalition of senators says the answer is "yes."  But Governor Peter Shumlin disagrees.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more.

(Kinzel) By most accounts, Vermont’s bottle deposit law has been successful in encouraging consumers to recycle their bottles and cans.

The question facing lawmakers is whether or not the five cent deposit should be applied to the more than 100 million plastic and glass bottles that are used to sell water and juice.

Vince Illuzzi is a Republican senator from Essex Orleans. He thinks expanding the bottle law makes a lot of sense.

(Illuzzi) "We are now using more and more plastics to consume beverages which 30 years ago were really unknown and this is our attempt to bring the law up to current societal practices."

(Kinzel) The Governor has a different point of view. While he supports the current bottle deposit law, he says the state won’t need it if a mandatory recycling law is adopted for all materials.

(Shumlin) "I would like to see us as a state move to a policy where everything gets recycled and where we have one stop recycling where you don’t have to take some items to the grocery store and other items to your green bins."

(Kinzel) And Shumlin says environmentalists should put their energy into passing the comprehensive recycling legislation, not this plan to expand the bottle bill.

(Shumlin) "It’s the wrong time to expand the bottle bill because it is an antiquated system of recycling. I don’t think we should use our stores as the recycling centers. I think we should move to mandatory recycling as fast as we know how."

(Kinzel) Paul Burns is the director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. He says the current recycling rate for plastic bottles is about 30 percent but he says the recycling rate for bottles with deposits is almost 3 times higher. Burns says that shows that Vermont will always need a bottle deposit law.

(Burns) "Even if you make that easy curbside you’re not going to get anything that approaches an 85 percent recycling rate that we currently see with the bottle bill."

(Kinzel) The Senate Natural Resources committee plans to consider the legislation in the coming weeks.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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