|Name||Beverage Container Law|
|Purpose||Reduce litter, increase recycling, reduce waste disposal costs, create local jobs and save energy|
|Beverages Covered||Beer, malt, carbonated soft drinks and sparkling water, mixed wine drinks, and liquor (over 50 mL only).|
|Containers Covered||Any bottle, can, jar or carton composed of glass, metal, paper, plastic or any combination (biodegradables excluded).|
|Amount of Deposit||Liquor bottles greater than 50mL: 15¢ ("nips" are not on deposit); all others beverage containers: 5¢|
|Reclamation System||Retail stores and redemption centers. If retailer is located conveniently near a licensed center and thereby gains state approval, retailer may refuse containers.|
|Handling Fee||4¢ for brand-sorted containers and 3.5¢ for commingled brands|
|Unredeemed Deposits||Since the container deposit law's inception, Vermont distributors and bottlers have kept unclaimed deposits. On May 30, 2018, VT Gov. Phil Scott signed S.285, to make unclaimed deposits the property of the State for use on clean water programs. The change took effect on October 1, 2019. From that date through 9/30/21, the State kept approximately $3 million in unclaimed deposit revenues. [a]|
Prior to 2019, redemption rates for non-liquor deposit containers had not been measured or reported on annually.
The deposit law in Vermont prohibits certain containers from being sold in the state: namely metal containers with detachable parts, and containers held together by plastic rings or other non-biodegradable materials.
Manufacturers are required to pay handling fees to redemption centers (and stores) that collect empty containers. Maufacturers who are not part of a commingling program, and thus require the redemption center to separate their brand for pickup, pay the redemption center a 4¢ handling fee. Manufacturers that allow their containers to be commingled with the containers of other brands can take advantage of a lower, 3.5¢, fee. Brand owners that wish to create a commingling program must follow certain procedures, outlined in the January 2010 report to legislature on the commingling pilot program. [pdf]
By law, redemption centers and retailers should not accept containers which are not labeled with the Vermont refund value, and the Agency of Natural Resources may penalize those businesses that do redeem unlabeled containers. Procedures for auditing these "foreign containers" are also laid out in the January 2010 report to legislature on the commingling pilot program [pdf]. Redemption centers and retailers are also permitted to refuse dirty and broken containers; retailers may refuse all containers if they have been approved by the Agency because they are located near a redemption center.
Beverage companies are required to register each beverage container with the Agency of Natural Resources.
Effective October 1, 2019, the Vermont law changed to require deposit initiators (manufacturers or distributors, depending on the distribution agreement) to report and remit unclaimed deposits quarterly for non-liquor redeemable beverage containers. Liquor is distributed by the Department of Liquor Control; they are the deposit initiators and retain unclaimed deposits on liquor containers for Department use; they report publicly on sales and redemption through annual reports [c].
[a] "Unclaimed bottle deposits will now fund Vermont clean water programs," Brian Wallstin, MyChamplainValley.com, May 31, 2018, and Link to enabling legislation S.285, and personal communication from Rebecca Webber, Administrator, Vermont Beverage Container Law, July 15, 2019.
[b] Personal communication from Rebecca Webber, Administrator, Vermont Beverage Container Law, Aug. 28, 2020 and Feb. 16, 2021. See also "Commingling of Beverage Brands in VT Bottle Bill."
[c] Vermont Department of Liquor Control Annual Reports: https://liquorcontrol.vermont.gov/about-us/annual-reports