BOSTON – Representative Alice K. Wolf (D-Cambridge) announced today that a modified version of legislation she filed to update the Massachusetts Bottle Bill was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) filed the Senate version.
This is the first time that an Updated Bottle Bill has been reported favorably from committee. The original Bottle Bill was enacted in 1982.
“This critical step forward represents the good work of dozens of legislators and advocates across the Commonwealth,” Representative Wolf stated. “But this is only one of the first steps in the legislative process. The Updated Bottle Bill is a win-win-win, and we have no time to lose in moving it ahead.”
“I applaud the Committee’s decision and hope the bill will be passed soon,” said Representative Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), who along with Representative Wolf has been leading efforts in the House to organize support for the bill. “It will help the environment, reduce costs for cities and towns, and save jobs.”
The bill adds a deposit on bottles for water in all its incarnations, from plain to flavored and vitamin-enhanced, and for tea and sports drinks. It also increases the handling fee for bottle and can redemption centers.
“This is great progress,” noted Phillip Sego of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “The Bottle Bill is the state’s most successful recycling program, but it needs to be updated to keep up with the times.”
In addition to the important environmental benefits, the bill is projected to save cities and towns $4-7 million in litter cleanup and disposal and bring in $18-20 million in additional revenue to the state from unclaimed deposits. Eager to find ways to cut costs, about 150 cities and towns have adopted a resolution in support of updating the Bottle Bill.
“Getting this important bill out of committee is like hitting a good single,” declared Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MassPIRG. “Getting the updated bottle bill all the way home to become law this session would certainly make the Legislature All-Stars.”
Many groups and individuals are advocating for the bill to pass this session. In addition to legislators in the House and Senate, the Sierra Club, MassPIRG, South Shore Recycling Cooperative, League of Women Voters, MassRecycle, Charles River Conservancy, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Mass Municipal Association, and Metro Mayors Council have been hard at work. Owners of bottle and can redemption centers who face bankruptcy without the increased handling fee support the bill as well.