Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-996

Title:

AN ACT ESTABLISHING A BOTTLE RECYCLING FEE IN LIEU OF A REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT.

Vote Date:

3/22/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/13/2017

File No.:

417

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The current “bottle bill” was passed in 1978 to eliminate litter by incentivizing people to return certain beverage containers for a five cent refund. Additionally, the state made a push for curbside recycling in the early 1990's. This method of recycling became successful and is now the normal method of recycling for many individuals in the state. Often, redeemable bottle containers covered under the current bottle redemption system are collected through curbside recycling. This bill intends to shift the current method of bottle recycling into curbside recycling. In doing so, the bill replaces the existing bottle redemption system and shifts the five cent refund provision of the “bottle bill” to a four cent fee which will be placed in a nonlapsing account. Such funds will be used to develop recuses for recycled containers, help compensate solid waste haulers, and compensate municipalities for any increases in tipping fees paid by municipalities due to an increase in recycling. The state of Delaware's recycling program utilizes similar provisions as proposed through this bill. This model is often referred to as the “Delaware Model.”

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE – LCO #5738

Substitute language creates a transition period from the redemption fee model to the new early recycling fee model. This transition period will take place in two phases. The first phase, starting on October 1, 2017, imposes a recycling fee on items not redeemable under current law. The second phase, starting on July 1, 2018, expands recycling fees to containers that are currently redeemable. Furthermore, substitute language increases the handling fee for distributors during the first phase, and makes clarifying changes to certain definitions in the bill.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Expressed.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Lawrence F. Cafero, Jr. Executive Director and General Counsel, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, Inc. (WSWC): WSWC is accepting and generally supportive of the intent of the bill; the state will have a steady and predictable revenue stream through the “recycling fee." However, given the fact that the retail cost for 50ml spirts (nips) is currently under a dollar, WSWC believes that a four cent per container recycling fee is excessive and far exceeds the desired revenue production by the state. A two cent per container recycling fee would raise sufficient revenue for the State's environmental programing needs.

Timmy Devanney, Owner of Highland Park Markets: Expanding the bottle bill is a move in the wrong direction because the bottle bill was created in a time where technologies and processes did not exist, or were inefficient, for single stream recycling. Additionally, due to the current bottle recycling system, groceries often have to rent reverse vending machines which are costly, take up a lot of space, and do not handle multiple types of bottles. There is also a burden for the upkeep and sanitation of bottle rooms because bottles and cans are retuned in filthy conditions. Finally, the current handling fee does not cover the cost of the redemption process. Highland Markets loses money on every container they take back.

Wayne Pesce, President, Connecticut Food Association: This bill improves Connecticut's comprehensive recycling infrastructure, making it more cost-effective and simple. Although this bill has merit, the four cent bottle fee in Delaware was made palatable because (1) it only applied to “carbonated glass and PET bottles smaller than 64oz., (2) it was implemented for a finite period of time with funds going into a dedicated fund, and (3) the fee was charged at the point of sale so that the fee did not come at the cost to suppliers.

Robert Rybick, Owner/Treasurer, Geissler's Supermarkets Inc.: Although in support of the bill, Geissler's Supermarkets Inc. recommends a study of the financial and institutional barriers to implementing universal recycling in Connecticut and to include in the study, an estimate for the transition costs and savings of eliminating the beverage container refund for the implementation of universal recycling.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Mark H. Bobman, Executive Director, Bristol Facility Policy Board: Recyclers in Connecticut have clearly stated that there are no viable markets for glass, and there is a cost to dispose of this material when collected with single stream recyclables. Last year, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Commissioner, Robert Klee, testified before the Committee on the Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy and provided a demonstration of the difference in material quality between glass recovered through the redemption program compared with glass recovered from single stream collection. His statements identified the need to maintain bottle redemption in order to assure recovered glass is marketable.

Lynn M. Bragg, President, Glass Packaging Institute (GPI): GPI estimates that up to 80% of recycled glass used in the glass container manufacturing process is sourced from the 10 states with beverage container deposit programs. Elimination of Connecticut's successful beverage container deposit program will decrease the quality of the recyclables collected. Up to 50% of the glass collected in a residential, single stream manner, will be sent to landfills for disposal, due to contamination and sorting challenges at the materials recovery facility.

Mike Elmer, Director of Capabilities, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England, (CCNNE): CCNNE has taken steps to reduce their environmental footprint, while being resourceful in how to reduce their operating expense in times of rising costs. The bottle bill is a grossly inefficient method of collecting a very small slice of the total recycling opportunity. Further, bottle/can redemption inhibits the ability of Connecticut towns to improve local recycling of all materials by depriving them of the tens of millions of dollars in scrap revenue, and sending the message that some plastic, glass and aluminum should be recycled differently from other plastic glass and aluminum.

Priyal Garala, Owner, CT Redemption LLC.,: The bottle fee as proposed in the bill is catastrophic to everyone, including the general public, fundraisers/non-profits, redemption centers, recovery companies, the unemployed, and most importantly, the environment. Without an incentive to recycle, there will be trash in the streets, highways, and parks.

Mary Mushinsky, State Representative 85th Dist.: This bill shifts responsibility from the beverage producer to the local taxpayer. Delaware is the only bottle law state that repealed its original legislation and replaced it with the beverage industry's recycling fee law. While the recycling fee allowed the beverage industry to evade its producer responsibilities for litter control and recycling, it was a failure for Delaware citizens and municipalities. The beverage industry promised $22 million in cleanup and recycling funds to municipalities and recycling businesses to handle litter and waste processing.

Chuck Riegle, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, TOMRA North America, Inc.: Connecticut's current bottle recycling system is the state's most impactful litter abatement program for used beverage containers; and is the state's longest running recycling program. This program has operated for about 40 years without public tax assistance – and has created an environment of investment by the private sector in the form of jobs, plants and in the case of my company and our primary US competitor – two headquarters including local manufacturing. This bill destroys all of this value and replaces it with nothing more than a temporary tax on consumers.

Michael Wellman, President, Container Collection Services for Environmental Products Corporation (Envipco): Envipco is committed to recycling deposit containers through high tech solutions, while providing good paying high skilled jobs, and facilitating a better cleaner Connecticut for our children. Legislation to repeal the Bottle Bill would have the unintended consequences of putting an entire industry out of business in Connecticut. The Reverse Vending industry has invested tens of millions of dollars in the Connecticut redemption infrastructure. Our business is dependent upon Connecticut's Bottle Bill.

The Environment Committee received in excess of 36 additional similar testimonies opposing the bill because the removal of the refund value removes the incentive to recycle, hurts non-profits that rely on bottle and can drives, and removes the need for businesses and thus hurts jobs related to the recycling industry in Connecticut.

Reported by: Steve Smith / Ussawin R. Bumpen

Date: 4/4/2017