MONTPELIER, VT - A majority of senators on Vermont€™s Senate Natural Resources Committee last week voted to add a bottle bill expansion plan to legislation that seeks to establish statewide recycling, the Burlington Free Press reports. The bottle deposit expansion would take effect July 1, 2013, and include beer, mixed wine drinks, malt beverages, mineral water, soda water, carbonated soft drinks and all nonalcoholic carbonated and non-carbonated drinks.
The committee also approved an amendment to a pending solid waste management bill, seeking to ban retailers€™ use of plastic bags. If passed into law, it would take effect July 1.
"[Plastic bags] are wasteful and ugly," said state Sen. Richard McCormack, who proposed the ban.
State Sen. Randy Brock opposed the bottle deposit expansion and plastic bag ban on grounds that they are burdensome, and he criticized his colleagues for adding the mandates without studying their implications.
"I€™m concerned about increasing the mountain of mandates on people," Brock said.
The underlying bill calls for the Agency of Natural Resources to develop a waste disposal reduction plan while increasing recycling efforts throughout the state.
Jim Harrison, executive director of the Vermont Grocers Association, said grocers would like to reduce the use of disposable bags but do not approve of substituting paper for plastic, which carries environmental and food safety implications.
"We are making positive strides getting people to use reusable bags," Harrison said. "This amendment was shortsighted."
Vermont€™s full Senate will vote on the merits of the bag ban and beverage deposit expansion later this week.