Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Big Push at the State House for Updated Bottle Bill

In a dramatic show of support, over 150 people showed up at the State House today, despite 90 degree heat, in an event organized to call on the Legislature to pass the Updated Bottle Bill. The bill (H3515/S1480) would increase recycling of beverage containers and reduce litter in ballfields, parks, streets, and waterways. The crowd included over a dozen legislators, from both sides of the aisle, who have become restless for movement on the bill as the end of the legislative session, scheduled for July 31, draws closer.

Representative Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge), the lead sponsor of the bill, led off the event by saying, “This bill is win/win/win/win -- good for the environment, good for bringing in revenue to the state, good for saving cities and towns money, and good for reducing litter.” The original Bottle Bill, enacted in 1983, stands as the most effective recycling program in the state, with over 70% of containers redeemed and an additional 10% recycled. The update would extend the nickel deposit to vitamin drinks, water bottles, iced teas, and many juices, only 20% of which are currently recycled.

“This measure not only makes sense to increase recycling, but it will save cities and towns precious dollars in waste collection and disposal costs,” said Tom Philbin, Legislative Director of the Mass Municipal Association. “In crunched budget times like these, we simply cannot ignore this opportunity.”

The coalition pushing for the measure includes over fifty organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the Environmental League of MA, the Charles River Conservancy, MassRecycle, Surfrider Foundation, and many more. James McAffrey, director of the Sierra Club of MA, remarked, “This is not just an environmental issue, it’s also about jobs, the economy and millions for the state budget. This is an issue of common sense.”

While the standard deadline for bills to move out of their first committee comes in mid-March, this bill’s progress was stalled until July 14, a date which strikes supporters as arbitrary, late in the session, and frustrating for the public, which strongly favors updating the bottle bill.
“In the spirit of Independence Day, we call on the leadership of the Legislature to free this bill and bring it to a vote, letting the democratic process unfold as it should,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG.


Note: View video from the event here:

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