DEEP: Bottle Bill FAQ

Bottle Bill FAQ

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Connecticut is one of 11 states in the U.S. that are "bottle bill" states. Bottle bills, also known as container redemption programs, may have slightly different provisions in each state, but essentially they work by charging a small deposit on a container at the time of purchase which is then returned to the consumer when the empty bottle is returned. What follows are some of the more common questions and answers regarding this program and the recent changes to Connecticut's bottle bill which expands this program.
 
 
When was this law enacted and how does it work in Connecticut
The law was enacted in 1978 and became effective January 1, 1980. During the months from November, 2008 through February, 2009, the CT General Assembly passed a series of three new state laws that change and expand the state’s Bottle Bill, as well as require that unredeemed beverage container deposit funds "escheat" to the State of Connecticut. In February 2010 the law changed again requiring bottle bill deposits to be submitted to the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) Commissioner rather than the DEEP Commissioner. The effective date of the 2010 amendment was July 1, 2010. See below for a summary of the four new laws, and a series of Frequently Asked Questions about each. Please review the summary of all four laws to understand the totality of these changes.
The deposit system works as follows:
  • The bottle bill applies to the following beverages: beer, carbonated soft drinks(including mineral waters and soda waters) and noncarbonated beverages (which means water, including flavored water, nutritionally enhanced water, and any beverage that is identified through the use of letters, words or symbols on such beverage's product label as type of water, but excluding juice and mineral water).
  • Each retailer pays the beverage container distributor .05 for each beverage container delivered.
  • The consumer, in-turn, pays the retailer .05 for each beverage container he or she purchases from the retailer.
  • The retailer or redemption center pays the consumer .05  for each container returned by the consumer.
  • The distributor then reimburses the retailer or redemption center .05 for each beer, carbonated soft drink and noncarbonated beverage container plus a handling fee of .015  for each beer container and .02 for each carbonated soft drink and noncarbonated beverage container returned.
  • The distributor pays the State of Connecticut the .05 for each unclaimed deposit.
Do all stores that sell carbonated and noncarbonated beverages have to take back all containers?
No. Stores are only required to take back the brands that they carry. If they sell a particular brand of soda, beer, water, etc., they must take those containers back. They are not required to take containers that they do not stock.

Does it matter if the containers are crushed or flattened?
No. The store must still accept the containers as long as the deposit information listing our state and the refund amount is visible. However, stores are not required to accept bottles that contain any foreign objects like cigarette butts.
 
Can stores limit the hours during which they will take returns?
No. They must have the same hours for container returns that they have for operating hours.
 
Who gets the money from bottles that are not returned?
Called unclaimed deposits, these monies accumulate from containers that are either thrown away or recycled through curbside programs. These funds are paid to the State of Connecticut.
 
What is a Redemption Center and how do I get a statewide listing of these centers?
These centers accept returns from the public and issue refunds. Review the list of Redemption Centers to find the center closest to you.
 
What do I need to do if I want to open a Redemption Center myself?
Contact Jackie Pernell-Holiday at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection  at (860) 424-3241.
 
Is anyone exempt from the law?
Yes. Any manufacturer who bottles and sells less than 250,000 noncarbonated beverage containers may seek an exemption from the law by filing a form and affidavit with the Commissioner of Environmental Protection no later than November 1st of each year. The form must be completed with the actual number of containers bottled and sold for the first three quarters of the year and with an estimated number of containers bottled and sold for the final quarter. This form can be found on the DEEP website at "The Connecticut Bottle Bill". Otherwise, if a business sells carbonated or noncarbonated beverages, which are not specifically exempt by law, that business must charge the .05 deposit and must provide refunds for returns of those brands that they sell. The law defines "manufacturer" as either: 1) every person bottling, canning or otherwise filling beverage containers for sale to distributors or dealers, or 2) in the case of a private label brand, the owner of the private label trademark.
 
Are any beverage containers exempt from the law?
The law exempts three categories of noncarbonated beverage containers: 1) containers 3 Liters or larger, 2) any containers made from High Density Polyethylene (with a #2 recycling symbol) and 3) any containers offered for sale for consumption on interstate passenger carriers.
 
Which other states also have "bottle bills"?
The eleven deposit states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and  Vermont.  
 
How is a bottle bill different from a curbside recycling program?
The bottle bill puts a cash value on each container which makes it more likely that these containers will be recycled.  States with bottle bills have much higher recycling rates for containers than non-bottle bill states.  Also the bottle bill was originally conceived as a litter prevention measure, as giving the containers a value means that containers that are left in public parks and beaches are often picked up by people who collect them for their refund value.
 
If we have curbside recycling, what purpose does the bottle bill serve?
States with bottle bills have a higher container-recycling rate. Because the material is collected separately from other materials (especially other plastics),  the material tends to be less contaminated and thus is of a higher quality than material collected curbside. Also, because the material has a cash value, people are less likely to litter the containers and even if they do end up as litter, someone is more likely to pick the material up. This is especially helpful toward reducing litter at beaches and parks which may have inadequate recycling opportunities.
 
Is there a national organization that tracks bottle bill issues?
Yes, the Container Recycling Institute, 4361 Keystone Ave., Culver City, CA 90232
310-559-7451
or visit www.container-recycling.org

Below is a summary of the four new laws, and a series of Frequently Asked Questions about each. Please review the summary of all four laws to understand the totality of these changes.

PUBLIC ACT 08-01

Effective Date: November 25, 2008

Amendments to the State’s "Bottle Bill" Concerning the Handling of Deposits
During the November 24, 2008 Special Session, the Connecticut General Assembly made a number of changes in state laws related to what is known as the state’s "bottle bill." These changes, which are contained in Sections 10 through 14 of Public Act 08-01 of that special session can be found at:

www.cga.ct.gov/2008/ACT/Pa/pdf/2008PA-00001-R00HB-07601SS5-PA.pdf

One of the major requirements of this new law is that, on or before January 5, 2009 and thereafter, every "deposit initiator" for beverages subject to the state’s "bottle bill", must open a new separate bank account at a Connecticut branch of a financial institution. This account will be used to deposit the "refund value" (usually 5 cents) for each beverage container sold in the state.

Additionally, each deposit initiator was asked to submit a completed Notification Form to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). (This provision was later changed to have each deposit initiator submit a completed Notification Form to the Department of Revenue Services (DRS), in Public Act No. 10-25, effective July 1, 2010. Refer to the DRS website for more information.)

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about PA 08-01 and changes it made to the handling of deposits paid for beverage containers:

Who must open one of the special accounts?
The "deposit initiator" for every beverage container sold in Connecticut that is subject to the bottle bill must open an account. A "deposit initiator" is the first distributor to collect the deposit on a beverage container sold to any person within Connecticut. A "distributor" is defined as every person who engages in the sale of beverages subject to the bottle bill to a dealer in Connecticut, including any manufacturer who engages in such sale and also includes a dealer who engages in the sale of beverages on which no deposit has been collected prior to retail sale. Every one of these entities must open a special account on or before January 5, 2009, and thereafter.

What funds must deposited in the special account?
The full refund value (5 cents on most containers) for each and every beverage container subject to the bottle bill sold in Connecticut must be deposited in the special account by the required date.

When must funds be deposited in the special account?
On or before January 5, 2009, the "deposit initiator" shall deposit the full refund value for all beverage containers sold from December 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008. On and after January 1, 2009, the full refund value for each beverage container sold shall be deposited in the account not more than three business days after the date that such container is sold. (This provision was later changed to 30 business days in Public Act 09-01.)

What funds may be withdrawn from the account?
The "deposit initiator" may withdraw an amount equal to the refund value for containers redeemed by customers on or after December 1, 2008. Only the refund value itself (typically 5 cents per container) may be withdrawn from the special account. No other deposit initiator expenses, including but not limited to; handling fees paid to retailers; costs for labor; costs for transportation, etc., may be withdrawn from the special account.

What reporting will be required?
On March 15, 2009, each "deposit initiator" was to submit a report to the DEEP for the period from December 1, 2008 to February 28, 2009. (This provision was later changed to have each "deposit initiator" report to the Department of Revenue Services in Public Act  10-25, effective July1, 2010. Refer to the DRS website for more information.)

What records need to be kept by the "deposit initiator" regarding the special account?
Deposit initiators must keep adequate records to document the refund value deposits into the special account, and the refund value withdrawals from the account.

PUBLIC ACT 09-01

Effective Date: April 1, 2009

Requires that Unredeemed Deposits be paid to the State of Connecticut
During the January 15, 2009 session, the Connecticut General Assembly made a number of additional changes in state laws related to the state’s "bottle bill." These changes, which are contained in Sections 15 through 16 of Public Act 09-01 can be found at:

www.cga.ct.gov/2009/ACT/PA/2009PA-00001-R00HB-05095-PA.htm

The major requirement of this new law is that, on or before April 30, 2009, every deposit initiator must forward the unredeemed deposit balance in the special account for the period from December 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009 to the DEEP for deposit in the State’s General Fund. Thereafter, the balance outstanding in the special account that is attributable to the immediately preceding calendar quarter shall be paid by the deposit initiator one month after the close of the quarter to the DEEP for deposit in the General Fund. Also, effective April 1, 2009, deposit initiators may take up to one month (rather than 3 days) to deposit the refund value for containers sold into the special account. The law also specifies when the Treasurer should record as revenue the funds paid to the state.  (This provision was later changed to have each "deposit initiator" report to the Department of Revenue Services in Public Act  10-25, effective July1, 2010. Refer to the DRS website for more information.)

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about PA 09-01 and changes it made to the State’s Bottle Bill.

What funds must "escheat" to the state?
The balance remaining in the special deposit account, representing the unredeemed deposits, along with any interest, dividends and returns earned by the account, must be remitted to the state for deposit in the General Fund on the dates indicated. The balance in the fund will represent the refund value of all containers sold during the period minus the refund value paid out to retailers for consumer returned containers.

When must these funds be sent to the state?
These funds must be paid to the state on or before April 30, 2009 for funds accumulated for the period from December 1, 2008 through March 31, 2009. Afterwards, deposit initiators must make quarterly payments to the state (July 31, October 31, and January 30, etc.) for the immediately preceding quarter. (Refer to the DRS website for more information.)

If the amount of the required payment is not paid by seven days after the due date, a penalty of ten (10) percent of the required payment shall be added to the amount due. The amount due shall bear interest at the rate of one and one-half (1-1/2) percent per month or fraction thereof, from the due date.

Public Act 09-02

(House Bill 6602, As Amended By House A & B), Effective Date: April 1, 2009

Expansion of the State’s Bottle Bill to include Water, and Other Changes
During the February 25, 2009 session, the Connecticut General Assembly made additional changes to the state’s Bottle Bill." These changes, which are contained in Sections 17 through 22 of House Bill 6602 of that session can be found at:

www.cga.ct.gov/2009/AMD/H/2009HB-06602-R00HA-AMD.htm

www.cga.ct.gov/2009/AMD/H/2009HB-06602-R00HB-AMD.htm

The major change to the Bottle Bill by this new law is to expand the current law to include containers with water, flavored water and similar products. Effective April 1, 2009, all containers for water, and similar products sold in this state shall have a refund value (of at least 5 cents), and shall be embossed or stamped with the symbols to indicate the refund value for consumers. The bill also provides exemptions for certain containers as well as small manufacturers.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about House Bill 6602 as passed by the General Assembly and changes it made to expand the state’s Bottle Bill.

What containers are included in the new expansion of the Bottle Bill?
Effective April 1, 2009, "noncarbonated beverages" are now included in the Bottle Bill. For this section of the law, "noncarbonated beverages" means water, including flavored water, nutritionally enhanced water and any beverage that is identified through the use of letters, words or symbols on such beverage's product label as a type of water, but excluding juice and mineral water.

What water containers are excluded from the new Bottle Bill?
The law exempts three categories of noncarbonated beverage containers: 1) containers 3 Liters or larger, 2) any containers made from High Density Polyethylene (with a #2 recycling symbol) and 3) any containers offered for sale for consumption on interstate passenger carriers.

What is the refund value and "handling fee" on water containers?
The refund value of water bottles must be at least 5 cents, like other containers, and the handling fee must be at least 2 cents.

Can small water bottler manufacturers seek an exemption from the Law?
Yes.  Any manufacturer who bottles and sells less than 250,000 noncarbonated beverage containers may seek an exemption from the law by filing a form and affidavit with the Commissioner of Environmental Protection on or before November 1st of each year. The form must be completed with the actual number of containers bottled and sold for the first three quarters of the year and with an estimated number of containers bottled and sold for the final quarter. This form can be found on the DEEP website at "The Connecticut Bottle Bill". The law defines "manufacturer" as either: 1) every person bottling, canning or otherwise filling beverage containers for sale to distributors or dealers, or 2) in the case of a private label brand, the owner of the private label trademark.

What about water containers in a dealer’s inventory that are not stamped for a refund value?
Effective October 1, 2009, all containers that comprise any noncarbonated beverage dealer’s inventory do have to be included in the Bottle Bill for collection of the refund value.

Public Act 10-25

(Substitute Senate Bill No. 127), Effective Date: July 1, 2010

Amendments to the State's "Bottle Bill" Concerning the Accounting System for Redeemed Beverage Containers.

During the February 25, 2010 session, the Connecticut General Assembly made additional changes to the state’s "Bottle Bill." These changes can be found at:

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/ACT/PA/2010PA-00025-R00SB-00127-PA.htm

The primary change to the Bottle Bill by this public act is to replace the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner as primary administrator for deposit initiators under the Bottle Bill with the Department of Revenue Services (DRS).

The bill requires (1) Bottle Bill deposits to be held in a special trust fund for the state; (2) quarterly reporting on account balances, credits, and withdrawals; and (3) initiators to pay outstanding balances quarterly. The bill also eliminates the state treasurer's right to examine records and allows both DEEP and DRS to file a complaint with the attorney general to institute action.

The bill also requires the commissioner to adopt the IRS cash receipts and disbursements accounting method. It allows the DRS commissioner to accept an alternate accounting method if a deposit initiator petitions for one. The bill treats any required payments as a tax for the purpose of specified sections.

DRS REGULATIONS
The bill eliminates the DEEP commissioner's sole authority to create regulations governing deposit initiators. Instead, it allows the DRS commissioner, in consultation with the DEEP commissioner, to adopt such regulations.

SPECIAL TRUST FUND AND ACCOUNTING METHODS
The bill requires Bottle Bill deposits to be held in a special trust fund for the state. It eliminates the requirement that the DEEP commissioner adopt written accounting policies and procedures and instead applies the cash receipts and disbursements accounting method. It also allows deposit initiators to petition the DRS commissioner for an alternate accounting method. The petitioner must file his or her return with (1) a statement of objections and (2) the proposed alternative accounting method, with supporting details and proof, that the petitioner believes is proper and equitable. The DRS commissioner must promptly notify the petitioner whether the alternative method is accepted as reasonable and equitable and, if so, adjust the return and pay any necessary reimbursements.

QUARTERLY REPORTING
The bill also requires deposit initiators to submit, beginning October 31, 2010, a quarterly report for the immediately preceding calendar quarter, to the DRS commissioner. Reports must be filed electronically by the last day of the month after the quarter closes. The report, on a DRS-prescribed form, must include:

1. the special account balance at the beginning of the quarter for which the report is prepared;

2. all deposits credited during that quarter, including refund values paid;

3. all interest, dividends, or returns received;

4. all withdrawals, service charges, and overdraft charges; and

5. the balance at the close of the quarter.

OUTSTANDING BALANCE PAYMENT AND PENALTIES
Beginning October 31, 2010, a deposit initiator must electronically transfer the outstanding balance in the special account attributable to the previous calendar quarter to the DRS commissioner for deposit in the General Fund. If the required payment is not paid by the due date, the deposit initiator will be fined the greater of 10% of the amount due or $ 50. The amount due and unpaid bears interest at 1% per month from the due date. Penalties or interest cannot be paid with funds in the special account.

RIGHT TO EXAMINE RECORDS AND FILE COMPLAINTS
The bill transfers the state treasurer's right to examine accounts and records to the DRS commissioner. It allows both the DEEP and DRS commissioners to file a complaint with the attorney general to institute action. The bill applies provisions of the law relating to inspection of records, deficiency assessments, penalties, refunds, hearings, and appeals to these provisions.

For more information concerning Public Act No. 10-25, contact the Department of Revenue Services at 860-297-5962.  

For general questions, complaints regarding non-compliance, or for information concerning redemption center registration, please contact Edith Pestana at 860-424-3044 or Doris Johnson at 860-490-3258.

Content Last Updated July 24, 2014

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