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Lawmakers agree to boost support for bottle redemption centers

A truck carrying bottles and cans pulls into Green Bee Redemption, a recycling center, on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 in Kittery, Maine. A couple that runs the center and a Massachusetts man were indicted this week for allegedly redeeming beverage containers in Maine that were bought in other states without a redemption fee.
Joel Page
/
AP
A truck carrying bottles and cans pulls into Green Bee Redemption, a recycling center, on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 in Kittery, Maine.

Maine's redemption centers would receive a financial boost under a bill that is headed to Gov. Janet Mill's desk.

The bill that passed both the House and Senate would add another penny to the handling fee that redemption centers receive for every bottle or can they process starting on May 1. And the fee would go up by another half-cent in September. Redemption center owners and bill supporters say the increase is needed to help the businesses cover rising costs tied to higher wages, rent and other expenses.

There are currently more than 320 redemption centers across Maine where people can bring their bottles and cans to reclaim the 5- or 15-cent deposit. But more than 50 centers have closed their doors in the past four years. And redemption center owners warn that more closures are coming unless lawmakers increase the handling fee for the first time since 2018.

Beverage companies, which pay the fee, had urged lawmakers to make other changes to Maine's 45-year-old bottle bill to improve efficiency. The Mills administration supported the fee increase but raised concerns about other aspects of the bill.