Connecticut expanded bottle deposits this year, but are more people recycling?

The bottle deposit costs you an extra 5 cents on each drink bottle you buy. You can get the money back if you return the products for recycling.

John Craven

Jul 28, 2023, 9:33 PM

Updated 361 days ago

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The price of coffee, tea and juice just went up this year – and it's about to rise again – because Connecticut expanded bottle deposits. But is the move causing more people to recycle?
BOTTLE LAW EXPANDED
The bottle deposit costs you an extra 5 cents on each drink bottle you buy. You can get the money back if you return the products for recycling.
Until this year, Connecticut only charged a deposit on beer, soda, and water. But thanks to a recent law, the list expanded to coffee, tea, juice, energy drinks and hard cider. State lawmakers removed hard seltzers, like White Claw and Truly, from the list.
The law also added a 5-cent surcharge to miniature alcohol bottles, called “nips,” that can contribute large amounts of plastic pollution.
IS IT WORKING?
Mike Stallings is the CEO of EyeRecycle, a bottle redemption center that turns your cans and bottles into cash. He believes the change is already having an impact.
“There's been an uptick since we added Gatorade, Snapple and all those other nonalcoholic beverages,” Stallings said.
To make it even easier for consumers, EyeRecycle brought a mobile redemption truck to Stamford's Mill River Park on Friday.
“This is our pop-up event today,” said Stallings. “We literally pay you on the spot for whatever it is that you're bringing.”
Renee Bornstein brought in a whole bag of cans and water bottles. She got $4 back.
“How awesome is this?” she asked. “I can come down here. I can bring my cans. I don't have to stand in line at the grocery store.”
Beverage companies and grocery stores said it’s too soon to tell whether the expansion has boosted redemption rates, but that may change now that hot weather has finally arrived and more people are buying carbonated drinks.
HURTING BEVERAGE SALES?
In spite of the change, the Connecticut Food Association reports beverage sales have actually grown. But that could change next year, when the bottle deposit doubles to 10 cents. That means a case of soda will cost you a $2.40 deposit. Currently, it’s $1.20.
“Obviously, it will drive redemption rates up, which is the intended consequence of the dime. And you can get your dime back, assuming you want to bring it back,” said CFA president Wayne Pesce. “But the question becomes, does it stifle sales at retail because someone doesn't want to pay the $2.40 out the door?”
Bornstein believes the extra price is worth it – especially if you bring your bottles back, like she did.
“The more expensive you make it, the more people are going to recycle, which is great for the environment,” she said.
DEPOSIT CHALLENGES
But getting your money back can be a challenge. Grocery stores will pay you back for cans and bottles, but only if you bought the items at their store.
The new law requires CVS and Target to start accepting recyclables too. But beyond that, Connecticut has a limited number of independent redemption centers – and only two in Fairfield County.
That’s why Mike Stallings brings them to you.
“It's getting rid of the brick-and-mortar and really getting into the communities,” he said.
Click here for more information on Connecticut’s bottle deposit law.


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