Committee: Double, Expand Nickel-Deposit Law
CT Post, May 2, 2019
By Ken Dixon
The key tax-writing committee of the General Assembly late Wednesday approved a major change in consumer behavior, doubling the nickel deposit on cans and bottles to 10 cents, and expanding the list of drinks to include juices, teas, sports and energy drinks.
The legislative Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee also approved a bill that would raise the age that young people could buy cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21, up from the current 18. The bill would also ban flavored electronic cigarettes.
The expanded deposit law would bring in as many as 340 million new containers per year by the time it would take effect on July 1, 2022. It would likely increase consumer redemptions, refunding more than $90 million a year, and according to a legislative analysis, $600,000 in revenue would be lost in the second year of the biennium. The state would make about $30 million in unredeemed deposits — called escheats — from consumers who fail to return their containers.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said Sen. Norman Needleman, D-Essex. “This means that 300 to 400 million bottles will be taken off the market and into the recycle stream.” Rep. Steve Meskers, D-Greenwich, stressed that the state’s overall recycling and composting problems are becoming a major issue set to overshadow beverage containers.
“I realize you get that money back, but you also need it at the beginning,” Phipps said.
New redemption centers back to top
Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said that under the bill, as many as 18 new regional redemption centers would open to accept the added beverage returns. She and Rep. Joe Gresko, D-Stratford, the chief proponents of the legislation, intend to revise the bill to make it a neutral item. Currently, the state would be projected to lose money because after two years; the new law would give redemption centers 20 percent of the revenue.
“The grocery industry doesn’t want to be in the redemption business,” Gresko said.
Earlier in the session, advocates for state package stores defeated a proposal from Gov. Ned Lamont to impose deposits on wine and liquor bottles, as well as the small “nips” that litter state roads.
On the tobacco-threshold bill, lawmakers led by Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, ranking member of the committee, were concerned about the potential annual fees and fines for cigarette and e-cigarette dealers. The fee for e-cigarette dealers would jump from the current $400, to $1,000 a year. Regular cigarette dealers who current pay $50 a year, would be assessed $250 under the bill.
“These fees are extraordinarily excessive,” said Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield, who voted for the legislation.
Witkos was also critical of a required annual audit for tobacco dealers.