Lawmakers are proposing an increase in Connecticut’s bottle deposit handling fee for the eighth time since 2000. The move would raise the amount distributors must pay retailers and redemption centers to handle bottle returns.
The most recent bill, House Bill 5618, which was proposed this month, doesn’t specify the amount of the increase. But it states the goal of boosting fees would be “to promote recycling and the continued employment of workers in the bottle redemption industry.”
Connecticut’s bottle bill, one of 11 in place nationwide, took effect in 1980 and implemented a 5-cent refund value on select beverage containers. The law mandated a 1-cent handling fee per container. Three years later, the law was amended to raise the handling fee to 2 cents for non-beer containers. In 1986, it was further updated to raise the beer deposit to 1.5 cents.
The current program covers beer, malt, carbonated soft drink and bottled water containers.
For the past three decades, the handling fee has remained stagnant, leading to some frustration among retailers and redemption centers. Meanwhile, local public media affiliate WNPR recently reported that the state received $33.5 million in unredeemed bottle deposits during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Redemption rates, according to information WNPR requested, have also been trending slightly downward recently.
Including the proposed handling fee increase, half a dozen bills related to the bottle deposit program have been introduced during the 2017 legislative session. Among them were efforts to expand the program to include more beverage containers and an act “studying the feasibility of phasing out the bottle bill.”