Hugh McQuaid Photo

State lawmakers will receive Valentine’s Day-themed petitions Friday from environmental advocates looking to drum up support for a proposal to expand the 5 cent bottle deposit law to more types of containers.

“Every senator and or representative will be getting a Valentine today from their constituents,” ConnPIRG Associate Sean Doyle said this morning in the Legislative Office Building. “. . . They’ll be getting a little piece of candy, too.”

Doyle said his group has collected more than 4,000 signatures from residents all over Connecticut with some coming from each of all the state’s districts. ConnPIRG is hoping to build on a bill raised by the legislature’s Environment Committee to expand the types of containers upon which consumers would pay a deposit similar to bottles.

“I think that’s a pretty big statement from across the state,” Doyle said.

The deposits serve as an incentive to increase the rate at which people choose to recycle. Currently bottle deposits apply to containers of soda, beer, and water. The language of the raised bill would broaden the law to cover juices, teas, and sports drinks. ConnPIRG wants to see the language changed to cover any type of single-serving beverage. Specifically the group wants a 5 cent deposit charged to small bottles of liquor known as nips.

“Nips are a really common form of litter,” Ryan Cadigan, a ConnPIRG organizer, said.

Environment Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Ed Meyer said he is open to the expansion.

“I think we should. I personally favor it but I don’t know how the committee comes off on it,” Meyer said.

He said the panel’s support for the proposal may be influenced by the testimony they hear when the bill has a public hearing.

The group likely will hear opposition to the measure as well. The state’s grocery stores say they lose between 2 and 4 cents per container that’s returned to their redemption centers and do not want to see the law expanded to include more bottles.

“Our guys would say they’re inundated with bottles and cans but because of the law, they’ve made it work,” Stan Sorkin, president of the Connecticut Food Association, said.

Grocery stores must rent return machines and pay the labor costs of keeping them running and keeping their redemption centers sanitary. That’s not an easy task, he said.

“They are difficult to keep clean, even though you try to do it. There’s a lot of labor involved,” he said.

Sorkin said he doubts claims that added bottle deposits will increase participation in recycling programs. He said most people prefer to dispose of their recyclables through curbside pickup programs.

“It’s an inconvenience to consumers. It’s ridiculous in terms of the hassle of bringing back added products to the stores,” he said.