An innovative way to clean CT waste


“If you want to make a difference in the world, start in your own front yard.”

With these words in 2019, Three Tiers for Connecticut – a coalition of statewide wine and spirits suppliers, wholesalers and retailers – launched our unique program to help make the city’s roadside, waterways and public spaces Connecticut waste-free from our containers, especially the 50ml “nip” liquor bottles.

In just under three years, we’ve mobilized community cleanups, rolled out a cross-platform consumer education campaign aptly named “Don’t Trash Connecticut: Nip it in the Bin” and designed an innovative “nickel- per-nip,” which was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2021.

How it works: Simple and straightforward

This stewardship program, the first in the nation, imposes a 5-cent environmental tax on the sale of every pinch container sold in Connecticut. The fee is paid by retailers to wholesalers when they purchase the nips, and then the retailer is reinstated when customers pay the 5-cent surcharge at each store’s checkout.

Then, since studies show that pliers are more likely to be consumed and discarded near where they are sold, each April and October, our member wholesalers pay to each city where a plier was sold. the equivalent of 5 cents for each clamp sold. in this municipality in the last six months.

This month of April was the first payment of this type, we are off to a very good start. I am pleased to report that this innovative program has generated $1.8 million in revenue for Connecticut municipalities to use for anti-litter initiatives and environmental cleanups.

The beauty of the nickel touchpoint program is its simplicity and direct impact. There are no hidden fees or charges and no complicated returns: each city gets a penny for every pinch sold. A total of 163 cities and towns in Connecticut have received direct financial assistance to address litter.

Communes: Now it’s up to you

There’s no two ways to do this: It’s an exciting time for both our industry and the State of Connecticut, and our members are thrilled to have this groundbreaking, collaborative program off to a good start.

Now that the money generated from environmental charges is in their hands, our message to mayors, city councils and local leaders is: “Now it’s your turn. Let’s invest that money the right way. Let’s see what you have.

We expect them to use those dollars to keep their roadsides, waterways and public spaces litter-free. In true Connecticut Yankee tradition, every city and town has the freedom to do things their own way.

We encourage each municipality to use revenue from this program to enhance and supplement their recycling and waste disposal efforts, including supporting recycling operations, deploying more recycling or waste bins in public spaces, and engaging local organizations for community cleanup. There is no shortage of ideas and ingenuity among Connecticut’s many civic, environmental and service groups, and cities now have resources commensurate with their pinch sales to help meet the challenge.

This environmental stewardship program can be a national model to help reduce one of the most common forms of litter, and we’re thrilled to see our cities and towns putting those nickels to work.

At this rate, we expect the Nickel by Clamp program to generate $4 million for Connecticut municipalities by the end of its first full year – and that funding can make a real difference if cities and towns are successful.

Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. is president and treasurer of Three Tiers for Connecticut and executive director of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, Inc.


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