Bottle return at a reverse vending machine.

In 2021, Connecticut lawmakers approved a series of changes to the state’s bottle bill, including expanding the list of containers covered under the deposit program, increasing the number of redemption spaces and increasing the handling fee and doubling the deposit. | Veja/Shutterstock

Consumers redeemed 194.5 million containers in Connecticut during the first quarter of this year, up 12.6% from a year before, as the state increased the container deposit from a nickel to a dime.

The data, recently published by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, shows the highest number of first-quarter returns in the state in at least a decade and by far the highest dollar figure for redemptions on record: $19.4 million, up from $8.6 million in the first quarter of 2023.

Container sales, meanwhile, came in significantly lower year over year, at 363.5 million containers compared to 444.5 million during the first quarter last year. The lower reported sales and higher reported redemption translated to a 53.5% redemption rate, the highest of any quarter since the fourth quarter of 2018, and the highest first-quarter rate since 2017.

Connecticut lawmakers in 2021 approved a series of changes to the state’s bottle bill. They expanded the list of containers covered under the deposit program, increased the number of redemption spaces by requiring certain retailers to install reverse vending machines, increased the handling fee paid to retailers and redemption centers, and doubled the deposit.

The changes were enacted in a phased approach, with the new redemption spaces added and handling fee increased in 2021, the new beverage types – including juices, tea, coffee and energy drinks – added in 2023, and the deposit increase effective January 2024.

Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, which advocates for bottle bills around the country, said the phased approach was key to the successful program revamp. She particularly lauded the decision to establish the additional infrastructure, which included about 300 additional retailers accepting containers, before increasing the deposit figure.

“This was one of the most thoughtfully designed bills I’ve ever seen,” Collins told Resource Recycling.

Returned containers also increased after a deposit increase in Oregon, where the deposit increased from 5 cents to 10 cents in 2018. Besides Connecticut, Oregon and Michigan are the only other states with a 10-cent deposit for all container types. Oregon and Michigan have the highest redemption rates in the country, at 86% and 76% respectively in 2022, according to, which is maintained by the Container Recycling Institute.

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