Vermont beverage distributors have an alternative to the state's bottle bill and they are prepared to pay for it, an industry lobbyist told lawmakers Friday.

The proposal would replace public trash receptacles with public recycling bins. In exchange, distributors want to do away with the state's bottle deposit law, which environmental groups praise as one of Vermont's most successful recycling programs.

Andrew MacLean, a lobbyist representing the Beverage Association of Vermont, said distributors are willing to pay for the lion's share of the proposed program, which would replace what he calls an "extremely expensive" bottle bill.

"We recognized that if we are ever to get out from underneath this system, we have to propose to you a system that's better environmentally. We have to invest - not only propose it - we have to put our own money into it," MacLean told the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Vermont distributors pay millions of dollars in handling fees to collect their returnable cans and bottles from redemption centers, which they say is an unnecessary step in the recycling chain but is required under the bottle bill.

Under the state's looming universal recycling law, recyclables will be banned from landfills in 2015.

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group and other environmental organizations support the bottle bill. The groups say the amount of materials recycled under the bottle bill more than doubles the state's 35 percent diversion rate, which is the amount of material kept out of landfills.

Sen. Anthony Pollina, P/D/W-Washington, says the bottle bill is one of the state's most effective and popular environmental laws.

"What we should be talking about is not chipping away at it. I think we should be talking about expanding it," he said.