Connecticut’s current Container Deposit Law was passed in 1978 as a litter prevention measure. The law has not been updated to reflect market trends or inflation, in particular, recycling laws (and now the low rate of recycling and increased cost to municipalities of recycling), the increasing cost to redemption centers of doing business and the expansion of bottled beverage types (e.g. teas and sports drinks). This law is long overdue for modernization.
Click here for a short video explaining the bottle redemption cycle.
Container deposits are a proven, effective method of collecting recyclable containers and creating efficient markets for PET plastic, glass and aluminum. However, Connecticut has the lowest performing deposit system in the world, with a redemption rate on covered containers at 51%.
The proposed update to CT’s Container Deposit Law would include:
Handling fees: Connecticut’s handling fees are lower than those in our neighboring states. As a result, several CT redemption centers have closed their doors in recent years, leaving CT residents with fewer convenient options for beverage container recycling. This shifts the cost of container recycling back onto municipalities and can directly impact the state’s already declining recycling rates.
Expansion of containers covered:
Beverages covered would include non-carbonated beverages such as juices, teas, coffee, sports drinks, wine, liquor and hard cider.
Recycling rates for non-deposit, non-carbonated beverage containers are currently as low as 12% for glass, 18% for PET plastic, and 46% for aluminum cans. An expansion of the containers covered would see a rise in recycling and a reduction in the pollution from non-recycled bottles. DEEP’s own data shows that over 20,000 tons of even deposit-bearing PET plastic bottles are wasted every year in Connecticut, much of which is destined to be burned, emitting PCBs, Mercury and Dioxins.
According to DEEP, approximately 60% of the glass that goes into our single stream recycling bins comprises glass wine and liquor bottles. By establishing a refundable deposit on wine and spirits, Connecticut can create an efficient process for capturing hundreds of tons of glass annually, while producing uniform, high-quality material that can be used to manufacture new bottles again and again. (The States of Iowa and Maine have had a deposit on wine & liquor bottles for decades, and they each boast recycling rates for glass bottles over 80%.) Glass recycling has become another major challenge for municipalities across Connecticut. Single-stream recycling programs typically produce mixed color, broken, and contaminated glass, which fetches a lower price on the commodities market than bottle bill glass. Much of the glass that goes into single-stream in Connecticut is incinerated as waste or trucked out of state. A survey of 45 Materials Recovery Facilities throughout the northeast found that facilities accepting curbside material send almost 40% of glass straight to the landfill to be buried or used as landfill cover.
Increased deposit: The 5 cent deposit on covered beverage containers has not been adjusted over time to keep up with inflation. States with a 10 cent deposit (Michigan and Oregon, for example) enjoy redemption rates around 90%. If adjusted for inflation over time, Connecticut’s deposit value would be about 19 cents in today’s market.
Price volatility within recycling markets has resulted in significant costs for cities, towns and private haulers where once they made money. Through expansion of the Container Deposit Law, Connecticut could divert material from single-stream recycling and municipal solid waste statewide. This would offer much needed savings to towns and cities.
Consistent with the original purpose of the Container Deposit Law, a modernized and effective Bottle Bill can also create additional significant savings for municipalities around litter collection and disposal. According to the Connecticut River Conservancy, beverage containers were the most common litter item found in the Connecticut River watershed in 2019.
Click here to read the letter to the Environment Committee from a coalition of Bottle Bill supporters, including the CT Sierra Club, the CT League of Conservation Voters and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Click here to read an article from CT Mirror “Is Connecticut’s Outdated Recycling System in Line for an Overhaul?
Writing or calling your legislators is a most meaningful way to let them know that an expanded Bottle Bill is essential to increase recycling efforts in CT, save municipalities money, address the solid waste and recycling crisis and protect our environment.
We have provided below a sample email for you to use or adapt as you wish to communicate with your legislators and a sample script if you prefer to make a phone call.
FIND YOUR STATE REP HERE.
I am writing to urge you to support expansion of Connecticut’s Container Deposit Law (aka the Bottle Bill) which is woefully outdated and long overdue for modernization. As it stands, this law does not cover all beverage containers in use today nor does it address current issues related to the low rate of recycling or the costs to municipalities of recycling. It is no longer even an effective measure for litter reduction. A 5 cent deposit is too low to motivate or incentivize enough residents to seek repayment of their deposit and therefore encourage recycling. [I buy milk in glass bottles carrying a $2 deposit and I am more than motivated to take these containers back to the store!]
If people are motivated to redeem their containers and can redeem more of them, these containers can be diverted from the single stream process and municipal solid waste streams (where many of the containers end up), thereby increasing recycling rates, reducing costs for municipalities and reducing pollution.
To achieve these results, Connecticut needs a bill which will:
An expanded Bottle Bill is essential if we want to begin to address our outdated recycling systems, save municipalities money, address the solid waste and recycling crisis, and protect our environment by reducing pollution from containers that aren’t recycled but are incinerated, sent to landfill or simply thrown away by consumers.
As your constituent, I urge you to take action by supporting an expansion of the Container Deposit Law. Please reach out to the leadership of the Environment Committee to express your support and your willingness to cosponsor a bill when introduced.
Thank you for your consideration of this critical issue.
SAMPLE SCRIPT FOR CALL:
I am calling to urge you to support expansion of Connecticut’s Container Deposit Law (aka the Bottle Bill) which is woefully outdated and long overdue for modernization.
We urgently need a bill that will Increase the handling fees paid to redemption centers, cover non-carbonated beverages, wine & liquor bottles, and raise the deposit value to at least 10 cents.
If people are motivated to redeem their containers and can redeem more of them, these containers can be diverted from the single stream process and municipal solid waste streams (where many of the containers end up), and help to both increase recycling rates and reduce costs for municipalities.
Expanding the law will also help reduce pollution from containers that aren’t recycled but are incinerated, sent to landfill or simply thrown away by consumers.
As your constituent, I urge you to take action by supporting an expansion of the Container Deposit Law.
Please reach out to the leadership of the Environment Committee to express your support and your willingness to cosponsor a bill when introduced.
Thank you for your consideration of this critical issue.
We are a coastal town, and plastic that gets in our waterways ends up in the Long Island Sound and from there it goes into the oceans. Plastic bags are ubiquitous and light, they easily escape and end up in our waterways. Every year, one trillion plastic bags are disposed world wide, equating to 2 million per minute. A plastic bag is made from depletable resources, yet never degrades completely.
The photograph on the left was taken at Stony Brook near Darien Town Hall.
See more plastic bag facts here.
Plastic is a wonder material that, since the 1950s, has greatly improved the world. At the same time, it has become a curse; plastic debris kills many animals and plants and destroys the beauty of the planet as a whole. Plastic shopping bags that were introduced in the 1970s are amongst the worst culprits. Millions of whales, birds, seals, turtles, and land animals such as cows and sheep die because they mistake plastic bags for food. In the oceans plastic bags disintegrate into microplastics, tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm long, which are ingested by all types of fish. Plastic in the ocean absorbs and concentrates highly toxic chemicals, such as PCB's and DDT, from the surrounding seawater. These pollutants have been known to cause cancer and birth defects and disrupt many of the body's tissues and organs. These toxic microplastics bioaccumulate up the food chain to humans. Click here for more details.
If plastic bags were recycled, most of these problems wouldn’t exist. But plastic bags are not widely recycled. The EPA estimates that a mere 12% of plastic bags in the US are recycled. We live in a disposable, consumerist society and plastic bags provide convenience. That being said, the long-term harm to our environment, wildlife and even our health far outweighs the short-term convenience of carrying our purchases in a plastic bag. Many countries, as well as States and municipalities in the US, have eliminated, or imposed fees on, plastic shopping bags. This has proved to be the single most effective way to reduce plastic bag pollution.
We in Darien must reduce the use and disposal of plastic bags!