in the State House of Representatives
on April 15, 2021, by a vote of
Purpose: To expand the 5¢ beverage container deposit/redemption requirement to water bottles, wine bottles and containers for all noncarbonated and carbonated drinks, except for milk, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, hemp seed milk, and dairy products, and require a 15¢ deposit on liquor containers of all sizes.
Analysis: Although those arguing in favor of expanding the “bottle bill” cite removing litter from the roadsides as a primary motive, the real driving force appears to be raising revenue. Unredeemed deposits (all those bottles and cans Vermonters never get around to cashing in) is money kept by the state. The Joint Fiscal Office estimates that with this expansion of the scope of containers covered by the law, new revenue from unredeemed deposits flowing to the state treasury will be between $1 and $1.2 million annually (over $3 million total). An earlier version of this bill which raised the deposit to 10¢ was abandoned in large part because legislators were afraid the increased incentive to redeem deposits (ie. reduce litter) could result in less state revenue.
The expansion would also require the hiring of a $125,000 a year bureaucrat to help administer the program, as well as spending on an IT upgrade.
Those voting YES believe the bottle bill has a successful environmental track record and deserves to be expanded.
Those voting NO believe that the bottle bill is an anachronism to a time when recycling was not yet part of our culture and infrastructure for doing so was in its infancy. Today, recycling does not need punitive financial incentives, and can be done more efficiently through “single stream” recycling programs rather than through separate systems for beverage containers and other recyclable products. Opponents of the bill also cited increased financial and logistical burdens for small businesses, such as providing space for storage of large quantities of beverage containers as well as labor costs for the redemption process, as well as the financial burden of upfront costs to consumers – a 24 bottle case of water, for example, will cost an additional $1.20 at the time of purchase. Some noted that the labeling requirements could lead some out-of-state distributors of beverage products to stop selling in Vermont in order to avoid the extra cost and hassle.
As Recorded in the House Journal, Thursday, April 15, 2021: “…Read the Journal: Shall the bill be read a third time?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 99. Nays, 46." (Read the Journal, p. 630-634)
Watch the floor debate on YouTube.
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – NO
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – YES
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – YES
Kirk White (P/D - Bethel) – YES
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – YES
Dane Whitman (D - Bennington) – YES
Terri Lynn Williams (R - Granby) – NO
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – YES
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – YES
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – YES