Bottle redemption centers feel loss of M&M

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo Customers enter Montpelier Discount Beverage and Redemption on Wednesday. The building's days are numbered as work on the the site is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

MONTPELIER — Montpelier Discount Beverage, formerly M&M Beverage, closed its doors a few months ago after being bought out by the city, and left Montpelier without a large-scale bottle return facility, with Shaw’s and the Hunger Mountain Co-op as small-scale return centers.

Waterbury Recyclables, Trash and Redeemables Center, the only large-scale bottle redemption center left in Waterbury, is feeling the impact of M&M and other redemption centers closing their doors.

Sebastian Marshall, an RTR employee, recognized the particularly large uptick they’ve experienced since Discount Beverage and Waitsfield Armstrong Bottle Redemption closed their doors.

Before (Montpelier) closed, we processed an average of 5,000 to 6,000 bottles a day, 7,000 to 8,000 maximum,” Marshall said. “Now on the weekend, we process up to 12,ooo to 15,000 bottles. ... in June there were only seven days where we got less than 10,000.”   

These numbers have led RTR to place non-enforced limits on customers, asking that no one brings in more than three 30-gallon bags.

This new influx of bottles, as well as trash and recycling problems, have put RTR at risk of closing, said Marshall. That would leave only the Waterbury Shaw's Supermarket side room bottle redemption center, where bottle returns are handled by machine one bottle at a time, making it impractical for mass bottle returns.

Residents voiced concern over the lack of other bottle redemption centers at a City Council meeting held Oct. 28, 2015, when the city was contemplating taking over Discount Beverage by eminent domain due to the bike path project, part of the One Taylor Street development project.

According to a Times Argus story, Naeem Abbasi, former manager and part business owner of the store, said, “This is the only place we have (in Montpelier) for a bottle redemption. … We all work here. We pay the bills. I have workers here. They will be out of jobs and will be hurt.”

According to a report of the meeting, Mary Shepard, a former employee of Discount Beverage, said the building processed around 10,000 cans a day, and the lack of return centers would force Montpelier residents to take their returnables elsewhere, notably to either the two closest locations in Waterbury or Barre.

The larger number of bottles has also leaked into Barre, pushing more bottles into Maplewood Convenience Store.

Ryan Edson, a shift supervisor at Maplewood, noticed a large uptick in the number of bottles processed after the Montpelier facility closed, and Quarry Hill Quick Stop closed its redemption center.

We've got trailers out back where we load our empties into,” Edson said. “We used to fill a single trailer on average a week, now we're filling two trailers on average.”  

Susan Allen, Montpelier’s assistant city manager, commented that while the city worked to help Montpelier Discount Beverage find a new location for its business, no location was found suitable for a bottle redemption center.

We are anxious to get the service back,” Allen said. “It’s a business opportunity for someone.”   

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