alcohol nips

Face the Facts: How Much Have Municipalities Made From Alcohol Nip Surcharge?

We're breaking down how much municipalities have received from the five-cent surcharge on mini alcohol bottles that took effect in October, and how that money is supposed to be used.

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The first payment from the state's new nickel for a nip law officially is in municipal bank accounts across the state.

The law passed last year and took effect in October 2021. It charges a five-cent fee on alcohol nips. The goal was to use that money to help cities and towns clean up the mess that these bottles make.

"What we're discovering is, the consumers of this product, it's become somewhat of a culture of concealment, if you will. It is a product that is purchased, consumed and disposed of in very close proximity to where it was initially purchased. Typically the package stores where it was purchased. And for those towns wherein those package stores lie, it has become a litter problem," said Larry Cafero, executive director of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut.

For each bottle sold, five cents is collected and then it's returned to the municipality where it was purchased for them to spend on environmental purposes and cleanup. But the bill doesn't say exactly what that environmental purpose is.

"We believe that giving this money to those municipalities will help them if used properly, and the legislation does require they use it for an environmental purpose, not put it into potholes or their education budget. But if used properly, it can go a long way to make, raise public awareness and clean up our streets and waterways of litter in general and specifically these nips," Cafero said.

The “Bottle Bill” expands the list of drink containers requiring a deposit and it’s heading to the governor’s desk.

In the first six months of the law, the state's wine and spirits industry distributed $1.8 million from the program. New Haven got the most with nearly $79,000 and Hartford received almost $64,000.

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Bridgeport, Manchester and Bridgeport round out the top five. The industry said now it's up to residents to make sure their community leaders are spending that money properly.

"They have the right to ask their municipality, 'Hey, you got several thousands of dollars through this nickel for nip program. What did you do with it? We haven't seen anything. We haven't seen anyone engaged in community cleanup here.' So I hope it doesn't come to that. But we're going to be vigilant in staying on top of the municipalities where we're sending checks to make sure they're using the money in the proper way," Cafero said.

The second payment for 2022 will be made in October.

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