Middletown considers $28,000 state grant to mitigate discarded liquor nips

MIDDLETOWN — The Common Council will consider accepting a $28,228 state grant for the public works office to work on reducing waste from discarded mini liquor bottles.

A bill passed last June imposed a 5-cent surcharge on the sale of liquor bottles smaller than 50 milliliters, with the money eventually going back to the cities and towns to help fund litter control or efforts to reduce trash buildup.

The surcharge is not a deposit, so they can’t be redeemed by the consumer, according to Middletown Recycling Coordinator Kim O’Rourke.

Nip bottles are often discarded on the street, private and public property, along hiking trails and other locations.

“I notice them everywhere now,” she said.

O’Rourke would have preferred a deposit on the mini containers.

“That gives people more of an incentive to bring it back and recycle it,” she said.

The sale of nearly 37.6 million miniature bottles in Connecticut between October and April netted municipalities more than $1.8 million in environmental cleanup fees. These are paid twice a year, O’Rourke noted.

The legislation ended up being a compromise, the recycling coordinator said, because there was some opposition to the bill. The 5 cents goes to municipalities for cleanup and waste reduction.

Liquor wholesalers give collected surcharges to the state, and the amount each city and town receives depends on their sales, O’Rourke said.

In Middletown, the money would support programs and other environmental measures to reduce the generation of solid waste and the impact of such litter, according to the resolution.

It could also pay for storm drain filters to block the waste.

These bottles are too small to go into the collection processing system, O’Rourke explained. To be recycled, containers have to be bigger than two inches in size, and hand separation is not available.

The only option for these discarded containers is the trash, and they eventually end up in a landfill or incinerator, she added.

The issue will be discussed at the Common Council’s meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.