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Lawmakers consider overhauling Maine's bottle redemption program

File photo of a worker sorting bottles at Boots Bounty in Portland.
Rebecca Conley
Maine Public
File photo of a worker sorting bottles at Boots Bounty in Portland.

Maine lawmakers are considering big changes to the state’s bottle recycling program.

That program has gotten more complex over the years, with a growing variety of plastic, glass and aluminum drink containers that redemption centers must sort into different bins. Lawmakers recently passed a funding boost for those centers. Now they’re looking to go further and streamline the process by which containers are collected and sent back for recycling.

Lawmakers on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Monday Monday on two proposals to overhaul the system, including one — LD 1909 — from Representative Alison Hepler of Woolwich.

“Most consumers see the surface of this program: you buy beverages, you pay the deposit and you get your nickel back. This committee knows that there’s a whole lot more behind the scenes and this is what today is all about. I submitted this bill because I believe we can modernize and strengthen the current system in a way that sets us up for the future.”

The other proposal, LD 1910, is from Representative Edward Crockett of Portland.

Both billls would attempt to move Maine to a system in which redemption centers can sort containers by material and size. That would be simpler than the current system of sorting them according to the different beverage groups that distribute them.

However, they each differ considerably in their details, and the committee heard several hours for and against each proposal on Monday.