Friday, April 30, 2010

Curbside vs. the Bottle Bill?

Too often in the discussion about expanding the bottle bill, I have heard references to curbside recycling, either that the bottle bill will hurt curbside recycling (which we have already chatted about and I don't want to re-hash here), or that we don't need the bottle bill because we have curbside recycling and can just improve that.

In response to that myth, I would urge all of you to look at the 2008 DEP solid waste generation figures just released. Only 40% of the MSW in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is generated from Residential sources. Let me repeat that. Over half and almost 2/3 of the MSW generated in Massachusetts is from non-residential sources. Thus, even if you perfectly captured bottles and cans from curbside collection programs, and at the risk of offending some of you, I would argue that none of you are doing that and many are not even close, you would still only be doing so for only 40% of the MSW waste stream.

Saying we don't need the bottle bill because we have improved curbside collection is in my opinion makes almost as little sense as me suggesting that I don't need vitamin B, C, or E because I am getting plenty of calcium.

I think the bottle bill has been the most effective way to recycle bottles & cans since it's inception, and I think it is time that we allow this tool to be used for all of the new specialty beverage bottles that have been developed since the original bottle bill was first passed.

My two cents worth.

Roger Guzowski

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Remember to Recycle

Letter to the Editor of the Carlisle Mosquito

Thank you to the organizers and sponsors of the 2010 Mosquito Trash Party. As a first-year participant, I found it a satisfying and surprising experience.

Having surveyed the litterscape while walking to Trash Party Central, I was confident one bag would be plenty for my trash mile. I was wrong. That lone bag was stuffed to overflowing by the time I finished.

Fifteen minutes along my Trash Party trail, the value of trash as an archeological treasure trove was clear. The haul from this grimy pursuit was type-consistent. Aside from the odd, sodden t-shirt (Men’s, X Large), and a trash lid most likely flipped from its container during its trip to or from the Transfer Station, the bulk of items fell into one category: beverage containers. The containers consisted of a variety of plastic bottles (recyclable, non-redeemable) and aluminum beer cans (redeemable or recyclable). Virtually all of these finds were in the vacant spaces between homes, suggesting the litterers were just passing through and showing their respect by not throwing their trash onto our lawns. The story of this roadside trash is one of abundance and a disposable culture.

It’s ironic that while some are urging legislation to “Drill, baby, drill” for oil, plastic bottles are made of PET which is 99% petroleum. Over 1 billion containers a year are littered or thrown into incinerators or landfills in Massachusetts alone. It’s estimated that the energy used to replace the 134 billion discarded beverage containers in the US in 2005 is equivalent to 50 million barrels of crude oil. While a nickel deposit isn’t worth some peoples’ while even in down times, the aluminum in those beer cans, as well as PET plastic, are two of the more highly valued recyclable stocks.

Passing an update to the 1982 Bottle Bill to include contemporary containers and switching to reusable, non-BPA bottles are steps in the right direction for dealing with this problem. Short of those measures, we need to diligently redeem or recycle what we use. Don’t let valuable, finite resources go up in Wheelabrator smoke. Please.

Launa Zimmaro

Lowell Street

Carlisle Sierra Club Committee, Chair

Member of Carlisle Household Recycling Committee

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Observing Earth Day

A group of Sharon residents observed Earth Day this year by studying Sharon’s trash. Here are the results of an hour spent retrieving cans and bottles from Sharon’s roadways and trash barrels.

A. Roadside litter

Total beverage containers retrieved: 617
Non-deposit water and sports drinks: 408 (66%)
5¢ deposit cans and bottles: 209 (34%)

B. Trash barrels at Deborah Sampson ball fields, Sharon High School and Memorial Park Beach

Total beverage containers retrieved: 106
Non-deposit water and sports drinks: 91 (86%)
5¢ deposit cans and bottles: 15 (14%)

After sorting and counting the containers, the residents took the 499 non-deposit containers to the DPW recycling station to keep them from ending up in a landfill.

The 224 deposit containers went to the nearest redemption center, eight miles away in Stoughton. Stuck with an inflation-eroded handling fee of 2.25¢ per container set in 1983, many redemption centers have gone out of business in recent years.


• Far more non-deposit than deposit containers are littering our roadways and filling our landfills.
• The 2.25¢ handling fee is no longer enough to ensure an adequate number of redemption centers.

The Bottle Bill has been one of the most successful environmental laws ever enacted in Massachusetts. Approximately 80% of deposit containers are recycled, versus only around 22% for non-deposit containers. It’s time to update the Bottle Bill to require deposits on bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages and increase the handling fee to ensure conveniently located redemption centers.

The Sharon Selectmen recently voted in favor of a resolution supporting a Bottle Bill update. Please call your state representative and senator, and ask them to help pass this common-sense legislation (H3515 / S1480).

Happy Earth Day!

Paul Lauenstein

Friday, April 9, 2010

Municipalities Would Gain Several Million Dollars with Bottle Bill Update

Groups tout DEP report which shows savings on litter cleanup and trash fees

Joint news release from MASSPIRG, Massachusetts Sierra Club, and MassRecycle

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has issued a report that itemizes how much cities and towns will benefit from updating the Massachusetts bottle bill, legislation which has been pending for years in the state legislature and is getting a big push this spring from a broad coalition, including the League of Women Voters, Mass Municipal Association, the Environmental League of MA, and many more.

With growing awareness of the waste and public expense that come from throwaway containers, an expanding coalition has been pressing the Legislature to finally expand the nickel deposit system to cover water and other “single serve” beverage containers that now end up as litter in parks, on roadsides, and in landfills.

The DEP report, “Municipal Benefits of an Updated Bottle Bill,” shows that municipalities can expect to save between $4.3 to $7 million annually, by avoiding cleanup and disposal costs for these beverage containers. “This would amount to a savings of roughly $1 for each resident of the Commonwealth, each year,” said Claire Sullivan, Executive Director of the South Shore Recycling Cooperative, an association of 13 communities south of Boston. “For example, Weymouth and Plymouth could each expect to save about $50,000 per year. Duxbury’s DPW Director independently estimated his cost to manage the beverage containers that aren’t in the deposit system at $10,000.”

“The Bottle Bill is the state’s most successful recycling and litter prevention program. Since its inception in 1983, over 30 billion containers have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy,” said Phil Sego, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “But to keep up with the times and consumers’ tastes, the bottle bill must be updated.”

“Every year, we send over 1 billion containers to our landfills, enough to fill Fenway Park to overflowing,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG). “If these water, juice, and vitamin drink containers had a deposit, we’d eliminate litter, reduce trash, and save taxpayer dollars, as the DEP report shows. We need an update now.””