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Source: New Haven Register

East Haven bottle, can redemption center to close next month

State’s outdated rates cited by nonprofit operator

Posted: August 7, 2017
Originally Published: August 1, 2017

An East Haven bottle redemption center is closing at the end of September and the Shoreline nonprofit is blaming the state General Assembly’s failure to increase the deposit levels on bottles and cans.

Westbrook-based SARAH Inc. operates the center and officials with the nonprofit told staff at the facility Tuesday about the plans to close at the end of next month. Its redemption center is located at 690 Foxon Road in East Haven.

Elizabeth Miller of Guilford was at the redemption center Tuesday. Miller said she as “disgusted” by the news.

“I come here at least once a month,” she said.

SARAH serves children and adults with differing intellectual capabilities in communities across Greater New Haven and the Shoreline. The organization has facilities in Branford, Madison and North Haven in addition to its Westbrook headquarters.

“We tried very hard to get new laws passed that would increase the handling fee to bring in enough money to help us keep our doors open,” Patricia Borne, SARAH’s executive director, said in a statement posted on the organization’s Facebook page. SARAH officials did not say how many of its clients would lose their jobs as a result of the redemption center closing.

“Regrettably, the legislature failed to act on any measure that would help us and any other redemption centers,” Bourne said in her letter. “The basic costs of our operation continue to go up while the handling fee we get paid to process the materials has remained the same for the past 30 years.”

Connecticut’s redemption rate of 1.5 cents for beer and malt beverage containers and 2 cents for water and soft drink containers hasn’t been updated since it was first implemented in the late 1970s. A bill that would have raised handling fees to 2.5 cents and 3 cents, respectively, moving closer to the 3.5-cent and 4-cent rates required in other states, never made it to a vote in the House, said Mary Mushinsky, a Democratic state representative from Wallingford.

A bill supported by the beverage industry that would have eliminated the bottle bill and would have created a 4-cent bottle recycling fee never made it to a vote in the Senate, Mushinsky said.

“We need to modernize the program,” Mushinsky said. “These redemption centers are struggling.”

The M&M redemption center at 200 Church St. in Wallingford closed in February because of the low deposit levels. It since has been replaced by another redemption center.

The most recent redemption rate estimates for bottles and cans in Connecticut, according to state data obtained by WNPR earlier this year, is thought to be between 49 percent and 55 percent.

Three other redemption centers have closed in Connecticut over the past two years, said Louis Burch, Connecticut program director with Citizens Campaign for the Environment. And now Burch said he is worried more centers will close if the bottle and can redemption rules aren’t overhauled.

Mushinsky said the number of redemption centers statewide has gone from a high of roughly two-dozen to about 11 now.

Burch said the East Haven facility “is a prime example of why keeping redemption centers open is so important.”

“In addition to the environmental benefits, it also supports the families of intellectually challenged individuals,” he said.


The East Haven center collects and recycles approximately 16 million bottles and cans every year, Burch said. SARAH officials worked with Citizens Campaign for the Environment and a coalition to get the redemption laws updated, he said.

“The most troubling aspect of this announcement is that it should have been avoided,” Burch said.