State Nickels & Dimes

I spent quite some time pondering over the first few paragraphs of this Courant article. What is an “unclaimed bottle (or can),” and why is the state fighting over the money attached to them?

I had visions of the governor patrolling CT streets in a minivan, sorting through people’s recycling bins looking for beer and soda cans. Turns out, it’s not that far off from the truth.

The battle over the unclaimed deposits became the most high-profile issue at the Capitol during a special session before Thanksgiving. An estimated 500 million bottles and cans in Connecticut each year are never returned to the store — ending up in the garbage or in recycling bins. Those 500 million nickels translate into $25 million per year.

The state, apparently, wants to claim that money, and is getting closer to being able  to. I find the whole thing a bit disturbing. 500 million cans? We’re a small state. That’s a lot of bone rotting soda, and brain deadening beer. (I suppose there are a lot of other bottles in there too, like plastic water bottles and Snapple… but I’ve got my issues with them too.) This doesn’t even take into account the amount of cans and bottles that do get returned for their deposits.

Side note: Once, after my old roommate and I kicked out our other “problem drinker” roommate, we quickly grabbed the many bags of empties he’d piled up in the shed and returned them for their deposit. We got like $13 and a new set of curtains for our living room window out of the deal.

In any case, this story is weird, if for no other reason than this paragraph:

Capitol insiders say that the beverage lobbyists got outsmarted and outmaneuvered in a high-stakes game of political power as somewhat unclear language got slipped into the bill.

Really? A high-stakes game of political power? It’s not a James Bond movie, it’s a fight over the nickels attached to a bunch of sticky, dirty, nasty old empties. Still, I support anything that helps make recycling a more profitable endeavour so…um…Go team!