Container Recycling Institute Releases Special 2013 Vermont Bottle Bill Report
Special Report Touts Success of Vermont’s Container Deposit-Return Program while Advocating for Greater Expansion
LOS ANGELES – March 1, 2013 – The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) recently collaborated on “A Clean and Green Vermont: A Special Report on the Environmental and Economic Benefits of Vermont’s Bottle Bill” (Special Report). The Special Report was issued this week in advance of a Bottle Bill Study commissioned by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (Agency) which is expected to be released today.
The CRI / VPIRG Special Report highlights ways in which the Vermont Bottle Bill is already highly effective at collecting and recycling beverage containers, with a recovery rate of 85%. CRI‘s data supports the fact that Vermont’s Bottle Bill is far superior to single stream curbside recycling for recovering beverage containers but could become even stronger if it incorporates best practices established in other regions – information that CRI regularly researches and publishes to help drive improvements in recycling.
“There are over 40 container deposit systems in place around the world and, for the past four decades, these systems have consistently achieved superior recycling rates,” noted Susan Collins, President of the Container Recycling Institute. “CRI has found that these other systems have excellent litter reduction and outstanding environmental performance compared to all other forms of recycling. CRI has also seen that the high quality and high quantities of recyclables support manufacturing jobs in the aluminum, plastic and glass industries. Those same recycling benefits could be realized here in the U.S. and help create higher employment rates, which CRI would like to see grow in Vermont.”
Collins went on to say that, “CRI believes that the current Vermont bottle bill would be strengthened if it incorporates certain best practices established in other regions. CRI regularly researches and publishes information to help drive improvements in recycling.” Best practice considerations include:
• Locations that have both bottle deposit programs and curbside recycling consistently have higher recycling rates with lower overall costs.
• On-the-go beverage containers make up a significant portion of consumption (30-50%), and recycling options away-from-home are limited, making the financial incentive of a bottle deposit particularly important and effective.
• It is undisputed that the quality of material collected through a container deposit program is substantially higher. For example, glass beverage containers collected via single stream are more often than not either landfilled or “downcycled” into single-use material like aggregate rather than being endlessly recycled as is far more often the case when they are collected through a container deposit program. Substantial quality improvement for PET and aluminum beverage containers collected in a container deposit program is also well documented.
The forthcoming Study from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is the product of a prolonged and impassioned Senate floor debate over a proposed expansion of the Bottle Bill. Last spring, this debate concluded with the legislature requesting a study from the Agency on whether to repeal, maintain or expand the existing program. One potential problem with the Study’s mandate is that it is focused on comparing the costs of operating the beverage container redemption system to residential “single-stream” (all-in-one-bin) curbside recycling, which is an entirely different program. Despite the Vermont program’s overwhelming popularity and undisputed success, the Study is likely to prompt a renewed debate over the future of the program arguing that, in at least some respects, single-stream curbside recycling is a better approach. With the release of their joint report this week, CRI and VPIRG hope to ensure a broader range of issues are considered that go beyond the scope of the Agency’s analysis for Vermont’s program.
“Instead of taking the beverage industry’s advice on what’s best, Vermont should base its decisions on real-world examples of what actually works,” stated Lauren Hierl, environmental health advocate at VPIRG. “Today we’re releasing a new analysis that looks at best practices around the world, and the results are clear: an expanded Bottle Bill will be best for our environment and communities.”
Bottle Bill supporters include a broad coalition of Vermont environmental groups, which have made clear the program’s environmental and broader public policy related benefits – from increasing recycling rates and the availability of feedstock commodities to businesses who can’t get enough of such materials, to decreasing highway and waterway litter, saving energy and reducing emissions including greenhouse gases. The coalition, which includes many groups that could be directly impacted by the legislature’s actions, gathered at the State House on Thursday to make sure their arguments for expansion of the Bottle Bill were heard. CRI and other members of the coalition encourage people to share their views on the Bottle Bill and the ANR Study at an upcoming public hearing on Tuesday, March 12, 5:30-7pm, Pavilion Auditorium, Montpelier.
The joint report from CRI and VPIRG is available on both organizations’ websites.
About the Container Recycling Institute (CRI)
CRI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization founded in 1991. CRI collaborates with communities and companies to attain our vision of a world where no material is wasted, and our mission to make North America a global model for the collection and quality recycling of packaging materials. For more information about CRI, please visit www.container-recycling.org.
About the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG)
Founded in 1972, VPIRG is the largest nonprofit consumer and environmental advocacy organization in Vermont, with over 20,000 members and supporters. For over 40 years, VPIRG has brought the voice of average Vermont citizens to public policy debates concerning the environment, health care, consumer protection and democracy. The mission of VPIRG is to promote and protect the health of Vermont’s people, environment and locally-based economy by informing and mobilizing citizens statewide. For more information about VPIRG, please visit www.vpirg.org.
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Susan V. Collins, CRI President
Lauren Hierl, Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG)