MONTPELIER -- Vermont redemption centers and environmental advocates are opposing a legislative measure that would repeal the deposit on 1-liter or larger liquor bottles and beverages containers as part of an effort to move the state closer to a single-stream solid waste system.
The proposed changes are included in a solid waste bill sponsored by Sen. Robert Hartwell, D- Bennington, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
The proposed legislation would not repeal the state’s entire bottle bill, which was enacted in the early 1970s.
The bottle provision is aimed at generating discussion about how the redemption system can be phased out in exchange for a system, in which all solid waste, including bottles, cans and other recyclables, are collected and sorted, Hartwell said.
Supporters say the system is more efficient and allows more people to recycle because they are not required to sort at home.
"I don’t know what’s going to happen to the bottle provisions right now, but the point is that there has to be a comprehensive solid waste system," he said.
David Ellenbogen, the vice chairman of the Vermont Sierra Club, testified Thursday that the bottle bill has changed Vermonters’ habits and increased recycling rates. Weakening the law would harm the Vermont’s reputation as an environmentally friendly state.
"How would headlines read outside of Vermont if the bottle bill were to be weakened or abolished?" he asked.
Redemption center owners also testified against the proposal, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus reported (http://bit.ly/1lpDv3K). Any weakening of the bottle bill law would hurt their businesses, said Arthur Carroll, owner of Springfield Redemption Center, who spoke for about 100 such businesses.
Andrew MacLean, a lobbyist representing the Beverage Association of Vermont, said the industry is seeking a single-stream waste that he said would be more efficient and save distributors money.
Now distributors pay a 3.5-cent handling fee for each can or bottle turned in to a redemption center. If the redemption law is repealed, the beverage industry is prepared to pay for public recycling containers and launch "a very intense" public education campaign, he said.