Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Name  Beverage Container Law
Purpose Reduce litter, increase recycling, reduce waste disposal costs, create local jobs and save energy
Enacted 4/7/1972
Date Implemented 7/1/1973
Regulations Vermont Statutes, Sec. 4b. 10 V.S.A. § 1388 and Title 10, Chapter 53 §1521 - §1530
Beverages Covered
  • Beer, malt beverages (including but not limited to hard seltzer)
  • Carbonated soft drinks and sparkling water
  • Mixed wine drinks
  • Liquor (over 50 mL only) and spirits
  • Canned cocktails containing liquor
Beverages Not Covered
  • Wine and hard cider [1] 
  • Non-carbonated non-alcoholic beverages
Containers Covered Any bottle, can, jar or carton composed of glass, metal, paper, plastic or any combination (biodegradables excluded). 
Amount of Deposit
  • Liquor and spirit bottles > 50 ml: 15¢ ("nips" are excluded)
  • All other beverage containers: 5¢
Reclamation System Retail stores and redemption centers. If retailer is located conveniently near a licensed center and thereby gains state approval, the retailer may refuse containers.
Handling Fee 4¢ for brand-sorted containers and 3.5¢ for commingled brands
Unredeemed Deposits The State keeps all unredeemed deposits for non-liquor containers, while the Department of Liquor Control keeps the unredeemed deposits for liquor containers. [2] 
Redemption Rates
Overall VT redemption rate (combined non-liquor and liquor)
Segment 2020 2021 2022
Non-liquor 77.8% 78.3% 72.3%
Liquor 83.1% 80.5% 77.9%
Total 77.9% 78.4% 72.4%


Non-liquor container redemption [3]  
Calendar Year Redemption Rate
2022 72.3%
2021  75.8%
2020  77.8%

Prior to 2019, redemption rates for non-liquor deposit containers had not been measured or reported on annually.

Liquor container redemption [4]
Fiscal year Redemption rate
2022 78%
2021 81%
2020 83%
2019 67%
2018 80%
2017 84%
2016 76%
2015 76%

% of All Beverages Sold That Are Covered By Deposit 46% [5]



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. Redemption centers must accept all covered beverages. Manufacturers 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 the procedures outlined in the January 2010 report to the legislature on the commingling pilot program [pdf].

Beverage companies are required to register each beverage container with the Agency of Natural Resources. By law, redemption centers and retailers should not accept containers without the Vermont refund value label, and the Agency of Natural Resources may penalize those businesses that 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.

On May 30, 2018, the Vermont governor signed into law S.285 (Act 208), requiring deposit initiators (manufacturers or distributors, depending on the distribution agreement) to report and remit unclaimed deposits quarterly, effective October 1, 2019. Before S. 285, Vermont distributors and bottlers kept unclaimed deposits for non-liquor containers. Now, unclaimed deposits for non-liquor containers are kept by the State while the Vermont Department of Liquor Control retains all unclaimed deposits on liquor containers. The unclaimed deposits that are the property of the State are used for clean water programs. From October 1, 2019 through December 31, 2021, the State has retained approximately $6.8 million in unclaimed deposit revenues from liquor 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 [6]. Effective July 1, 2022, Act 177 made all ready-to-drink spirit beverage deposits decreased from 15¢ to 5¢.


[1] Personal communication from Rebecca Webber, Administrator. Vermont Beverage Container Law. April 21, 2022.

[2] "Unclaimed bottle deposits will now fund Vermont clean water programs." Brian Wallstin,, May 31, 2018.  Link to enabling legislation S.285, (link as enacted); personal communication from Rebecca Webber, Administrator. Vermont Beverage Container Law. Cumulative total of unclaimed deposit revenue calculated by adding up reported "deposits abandoned" from October 1, 2019- December 31, 2021. July 15, 2019 and April 12, 2022. 

[3] Personal communication from Rebecca Webber, Administrator. Vermont Beverage Container Law. August 28, 2020 and February 16, 2021. See also "Commingling of Beverage Brands in VT Bottle Bill."

[4] Vermont Department of Liquor Control Annual Reports:

[5]"2019 Beverage Market Data Analysis." Container Recycling Institute. 2022.

[6] See Footnote 4.


Last Updated August 1, 2023.

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Contact - Vermont

For information on labeling requirements, please contact your government agency.


Rebecca Webber
Vermont Beverage Container Law
Solid Waste Division
1 National Life Drive
Davis 1
Montpelier, VT 05620
P: (802) 522-3658
E: [email protected]


Marcie Gallagher
Environmental Associate
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
141 Main Street, Suite 6
Montpelier, VT
E: [email protected]                              P: (802) 223-5221x16