Lawmakers have passed the first major expansion of the state’s bottle bill in the past 50 years — but its future is uncertain because of concerns raised by Gov. Phil Scott.
The proposal expands the 5-cent bottle deposit to include water bottles and sports energy drinks, and it places a 15-cent deposit on wine bottles. It also raises handling fees for redemption centers.
Backers of the plan say it will help increase the recycling rate.
“Increasing the coverage of the Bottle Bill will increase the amount of materials that are available to manufacturers who are working to reduce environmental impacts,” said Middlebury Rep. Amy Sheldon, chair of the House Environment and Energy Committee. “This is a win-win for the environment.”
But House Minority Leader Pattie McCoy opposed the bill. She said it would divert valuable resources away from existing commercial recycling programs.
“The material recovery facilities will still have to operate the equipment to process the glass that they do receive, but will have less volume,” McCoy said. “This will increase the costs of recycling when Vermonters are already complaining about the cost of recycling.”
Scott says the bill makes it too complicated to recycle these new bottles. He prefers an approach that gives consumers financial incentives to place more of their containers in their home recycling bins.
If the governor vetoes the bill, lawmakers could try to override it when they return to the Statehouse in January.
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