Impacts of Increasing Vermont’s Bottle Bill Scope and Deposit Value

26th March 2020

by Sarah Edwards, John Carhart

This report, for  Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) aims to estimate any achievable positive impact that could be associated with extension of the current bottle bill, in terms of scope and deposit level.

Since 1973, Vermont has had a deposit refund system (DRS), also known as a bottle bill, on select beverage containers. This DRS system places a deposit on beverage containers that consumers pay when purchasing beverages; they receive the deposit back when they return their empty beverage containers to redemption centers.

At its inception, the Vermont bottle bill covered beer, carbonated soft drinks and mixed wine drinks. In 1991, liquor was added to the list of covered beverages. No additional beverage types have been added since.  The deposit value is 15 cents for liquor and 5 cents for all other in-scope containers.1 The deposit value has not changed since the program inception. If the 5-cent level of deposit was pegged to inflation in 1973, today the deposit would be 30 cents.

Our team assessed three different bottle bill modification scenarios, the financial impact they would have for key stakeholders, and the projected increase in redemption rates and, therefore, recycled tonnage they would drive. The report has been used in multiple policy debates and was used as the basis for the testimony Paul Bates, Director of VPIRG, was invited to give before the lead committee.

This report is available free of charge. Press the orange button and provide a few details about yourself to access the download.