Fix the broken bottle bill before expanding it
If it's about more unclaimed nickels for the state, count the grocers out
Expanding Connecticut’s bottle law in its current form would be a mistake and place undue hardship on grocery stores who do much of the heavy lifting in this process.
Connecticut’s grocery community redeems over 625 million containers per year and provides a valuable community service without a voice in the debate.
Connecticut grocers handling fee for the collection and disposal of these materials is about half what Maine grocers get. Meanwhile the state of Connecticut at present collects over $36 million per year in unclaimed deposits which goes directly into the general fund. With a 50 percent rise in minimum wage on the horizon and the cost of equipment to reverse vend containers rising, retailers who already lose money providing valuable real estate for redemption, will lose more.
Adding approximately 7 percent volume or 43 million containers will add additional costs to the redemption process and help make a broken law worse. We shouldn’t expand the bottle law until the current system is overhauled and not used solely as an annuity for fixing budget ills.
If this is about sound policy that shares the burden for recovering better materials and servicing our customers, we can and will support that type of initiative. If it’s about more unclaimed nickels and expanding a broken system, count us out.
At what point does the grocery community say: we have reached a tipping point? Our concerns in the collection of these materials are not being considered and enough is enough.
Wayne Pesce is President of the Connecticut Food Association.
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