Photo of Senator Cohen.

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Sen. Cohen Leads Senate Passage of Bottle Recycling Bill

Connecticut updates bottle recycling for first time in 50 years


HARTFORD – State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) this evening led the state Senate in the near-unanimous passage of a bill which, beginning this October, directs Connecticut liquor wholesalers to begin collecting a 5-cent surcharge on 50ml "nip" liquor bottles and then turn that money over to cities and towns to fight the widespread litter of these little liquor bottles under a bill passed today in the state Senate.

The bill also expands the list of drink bottles requiring a deposit to include hard seltzer and hard cider as well as plant water, juice, juice drinks, tea, coffee, kombucha, plant infused drink, and sports and energy drinks, and it raises the deposit amount on them from 5 cents to 10 cents, beginning January 1, 2024.

Senate Bill 1037, "AN ACT CONCERNING SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT," passed the Senate on a bipartisan 33-1 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

"Functioning bottle deposit and return systems create more jobs and beautify our environment. But these systems need to be updated to reflect the times and current trends. And Connecticut has not updated its bottle deposit system in four decades," said Sen. Cohen, who is Senate Chair of the Environment Committee. "But with this bill we have the ability to put a large dent in the environmental issues that outdated bottle return policies create. This is long overdue, and it's going to benefit our cities and towns, our environment, and our future generations."

SB 1037 is the result of a long debate in Connecticut about how to remove plastic and glass bottle litter from our environment, and how to address the popularity of new types of drinks – besides just soda and beer – to include the variety of hard seltzers, hard ciders, sports drinks, and other popular new beverages crowding grocery store aisles and the resulting litter in our environment.

The issue of "nip" litter has been especially troublesome: with no deposit required on them, the tiny liquor bottles have become the focus of local, annual grassroots nip clean-up drives that can collect as many as 50,000 nip bottles in a single day from neighborhood streets, parks, riverbanks, forests, and storm drains.

SB 1037 bill specifically requires that liquor wholesalers who sell nip bottles must pay 5 cents per bottle sold twice a year to the city or town where the nips were sold, with the money to be used by the town specifically for cleaning up any nip bottle trash by – for example – hiring a recycling coordinator, installing storm drain filters, or purchasing a mechanical street sweeper or vacuum to remove nip trash from streets, sidewalks and lawns.

To help address the issue of solid waste management, and to save municipalities money in their waste disposal costs, SB 1037 also directs the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to begin the in-state processing of no less than 80% of the wine and liquor bottles sold into Connecticut and turn them into furnace-ready cullet (broken glass ready for recycling) to be used in cement, glass and fiberglass products.