Saving—and strengthening—the Bottle Bill

Back in 1978, our staff helped pass Connecticut’s Bottle Bill. In 2004, with the help of a strong coalition, we fought back against industry lobbyists pushing for its repeal. And in 2009, we won an expansion of the Bottle Bill to include bottled water—which will keep hundreds of millions of plastic bottles from littering our roads, parks and beaches every year.

Connecticut’s Bottle Bill is one of the most successful environmental preservation laws on the books. Before it was enacted in 1978, millions of bottles and cans littered the state’s beaches, parks and roadways. Millions more were thrown into landfills. Today, over 1.1 billion bottles and cans are redeemed for deposit each year in Connecticut. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, Connecticut and other states with Bottle Bills have much higher container recycling rates than non-bottle bill states.

When the bottle bill was first enacted, the vast majority of beverage containers contained carbonated beverages. Therefore, the original bottle bill only applied to drinks such as soda and beer. Today, the market for non-carbonated beverages is huge, with bottled water taking up the lion’s share of that market. Therefore, the 2009 expansion to include bottled water will dramatically reduce litter and increase the number of containers being redeemed and recycled instead of ending up in landfills or incinerators.