August 31, 2006
EXPANDED BOTTLE BILL
By: Joseph R. Holstead, Associate Analyst
You asked (1) if the state would see an increase in revenue if it expanded the beverage container law (commonly known as the “bottle bill”) to cover other beverage containers beyond those currently required and (2) which neighboring states with bottle bills have expanded them to include water and sport drink bottles.
The state has never received any money from the beverage container law; thus, an expansion would not result in increased revenue without additional changes to the law. Of Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont (the neighboring states with beverage container laws), only Maine has an expanded one.
Connecticut's bottle bill requires a $.05 fee, refundable to a consumer when the container is returned to the retailer or a redemption center, on beer and other malt beverages, soda water, and carbonated soft drinks. “Expanded” bottle bills typically include water, juice, and other beverage containers.
Under Connecticut's beverage container law, (PA 78-16) which became effective, January 1, 1980, beer and carbonated soft drink distributors and bottlers keep the money from unredeemed bottle deposits, which are also known as unclaimed deposits and escheats (CGS § 22a-243 et seq.). If the legislature changes the law to require unclaimed bottle deposits to be paid to the state, the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) has estimated that the state could eventually receive as much as $20 million per year
(2005 OFA fiscal note for sSB 61). It is fair to assume that an expanded bottle bill could increase the amount the state would receive in unclaimed bottle deposits, if the legislature chose to change the law, because the number of bottles subject to a deposit would increase.
Maine's bottle bill includes all beverage containers, except for those containing dairy products and unprocessed cider. Bottle bills in New York and Vermont do not include water and sports drink containers, but do include wine coolers. Vermont also includes liquor containers, in addition to the standard bottle bill requirements, according to the Container Recycling Institute's (CRI) www.bottlebill.org project. (CRI is a nonprofit organization that studies and promotes policies and programs to increase beverage container recovery and recycling.)
Of the 11 states with bottle bills, only California, Hawaii, and Maine have what are considered expanded beverage container law (Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, and Oregon also have standard bottle bills). California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Michigan keep unclaimed bottle deposits, although Michigan allows retailers to keep 25% to offset handling costs, according to CRI.
For more information on (1) Connecticut's bottle bill, see OLR report 2006-R-0495 and (2) beverage container recycling in general, see 2005-R-0836.