Gov. Ned Lamont is proposing a 25-cent deposit on wine and glass liquor bottles and a 5-cent deposit on miniature “nip” bottles in his budget released this week.
The deposits, which would take effect Oct. 1 if approved, would generate a projected $4.9 million in revenue next fiscal year and $6.6 million in 2020-21, according to Lamont’s budget proposal released Wednesday.
The logistics of how the glass bottles and nips would be collected is unclear, as many of the reverse vending machines at redemption sites around the state are not set up to process either. Chris McClure, the spokesman for Lamont’s Office of Policy and Management, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Wine and liquor retailers raised concerns about the impact of expanding deposits, including additional costs and logistical issues.
Carroll Hughes, president of the Connecticut Package Store Association, said the deposit would “add steps” to the current recycling process. While the bottles can currently be put in residential recycling bins, deposits would encourage customers to bring bottles to package stores that would need to store them and pay to have them delivered to a processing facility.
“There's no good argument for setting up a system that's more expensive, environmentally more degrading, and disrupts the peoples’ sense of recycling,” he said. “(Recycling is) already happening, and it’s happening in a much more efficient way than if we were to put a deposit on it.”
Champak Patel, owner of the Grog Shop in South Meriden, said any additional costs would ultimately be passed to customers.
“They’re putting more burden on the consumer,” he said.
If the deposits on nip bottles, which hold around two ounces of liquor, are approved, Patel argued state-operated redemption centers should be established to process the bottles because he feels small, family-owned liquor stores couldn’t handle higher volumes of bottle returns.
“We’re not going to be selling nips after that probably because somebody comes with a full bag of nips and says, ‘Here’s 500 nips,’ we’re not going to have the time to count those nips,” he said.
Hughes suggested it would be more sensible for the state to impose a “fee” of a couple cents per bottle if the goal is generating more revenue. He also said he’s “open to having a discussion.”
Some municipalities, including Meriden, have expressed support for the nip bottle deposit because they believe it could cut down on the number of bottles littered in city parks. Meriden City Manager Tim Coon said earlier this month that the city was urging lawmakers to pass the 5 cent deposit on nips, which are frequently littered at the Meriden Green.
Joe Gouveia, owner of Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, fears the deposits may hurt sales of wine bottles at his vineyard. Gouveia said his sales have dropped over the years like many other longtime wineries because “we are no longer the new kid on the block.”
Gouveia also raised concerns about how his family-owned winery would be able to store bottles returned by customers. Years back, Gouveia said he proposed an alternative way to cut down on waste by allowing customers who want to purchase a second bottle of wine to refill their empty bottle at a discounted price, but that proposal never materialized.
Lamont’s budget also reduces the alcoholic beverage excise tax levied at craft breweries by 50 percent beginnning July 1. The tax cut would mean about $100,000 less in annual revenue, according to the budget.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢