Saturday, October 29, 2011

Last-ditch Effort to Expand 'Bottle Bill'

News Release: October 28, 2011

Boston, MA - A group of environmental advocates -- dressed as pirates, cats, and even Little Red Riding Hood -- called on Massachusetts legislators to expand the state's bottle-recycling program yesterday.

In a Halloween-themed push, backers of legislation that would add a 5-cent deposit onto the cost of bottled water, sports drinks and other non carbonated beverages, showed up at the Statehouse in costume yesterday to "trick-or-treat" throughout the building and share their views with lawmakers.

The supporters of the so-called "bottle bill," including college students and members of environmental organizations, were brought together by MASSPIRG, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, an organization that has been one of the bill's main proponents.

"Updating the bottle bill means less litter, more recycling and saving cities and towns money," said MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz. "That is not a trick. That's a treat."

The group visited the office of each member of the House and Senate, bringing with them a total of 15,313 postcards from constituents asking that their legislators support the bill.

UMass Lowell students Ryan Bichekas and Brooks Hubbard helped distribute postcards and information packets to area representatives.

"It's really important just to try to help the environment," said Bichekas, a senior studying political science. "It's being pushed to the brink as it is."

Bichekas, who joked that he consideredwearing a mask of former President Richard Nixon, who was president when the Environmental Protection Agency was established, said he believes the bill creates a necessary incentive for people to recycle.
The original bottle bill, passed in 1982, was the first statewide recycling program in Massachusetts. Retailers and consumers pay a 5-cent deposit when purchasing canned or bottled carbonated drinks, and consumers who return the bottles to redemption centers get their deposit refunded.

The proposal to expand the system is sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and Rep. Alice Wolf, D-Cambridge. Sens. Jamie Eldrigde, D-Acton, Ken Donnelly, D-Arlington, and Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, are among the 80 co-sponsors of the bill.

Why is the Bottle Bill “bottled up”?

News Release: October 28, 2011

Swampscott, MA - I’m a walker. I walk every day. When I don’t want to walk, my dog Soxie pesters the bejeebers out of me until I get my daily constitutional. Soxie doesn’t just like to walk, she loves to walk; it’s the highlight of her day.

When I walk, I always pick up litter along the way. Whether it’s our beautiful beaches, our lovely parks, or our neighbors’ rail trails or woods, I’m always picking up as much litter as I can carry out. By far, the greatest litter offender is the ubiquitous plastic water bottle. (Coffee cups run a distant second.)

I read a story last Spring about the Charles River Conservancy (CRC). For many years they have enlisted a corps of volunteers for an annual Spring clean up along the banks of the River Charles. The CRC volunteers have reported the same thing – plastic water bottles are the trashiest offender to a cleaner environment. It used to be soda and beer bottles but that stopped once the “Bottle Bill” was established.

The answer is simple, right? Let’s require a deposit on water bottles.

According to the Sierra Club: “the Bottle Bill, the nickel deposit on beverage containers, is the state’s most successful recycling and litter prevention program. Since the Bottle Bill's passage in 1983, over 35 billion containers have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy. But to keep up with the times and consumers' tastes, the bottle bill must be updated.”

There currently is an updated Bottle Bill sponsored by our excellent State Rep, Lori Ehrlich. This bill would expand our container deposit system to include “new age” drinks such as non-carbonated beverages, water, iced tea, juice, and sports drinks. It would decrease litter and increase recycling.

An estimated 3.3 billion beverages are consumed annually in Massachusetts, of which 1.3 billion are “new-age” and this number is only expected to increase. As consumers purchase more of these beverages, an increasing number of containers are finding their way to landfills, littering the sides of our roads and fouling our beaches and parks.

If you feel as I do about cleaning up our environment and cutting our government’s increasing disposal costs, I urge you to check out the Sierra Club’s web site on this issue.

While the bill is expected to have the overwhelming support of legislators in both Houses, it is currently “bottled up” in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, co-chaired by our Salem neighbor Rep. John Keenan. You can do your part by letting your feelings be known to Keenan and/or another Committee member. You can get their contact information at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Trick or Treat: Postcard Delivery Day Thu, 10/27

The Campaign for the Updated Bottle Bill's
Trick or Treat: Postcard Delivery Day
Thursday, October 27, 11am-1pm

Meet us at the Masspirg Office, 44 Winter St, 4th Floor, Boston or at the State House for this important event!

11am (sharp) - Meet at the Masspirg Office, costume optional
11:15am - Walk up to the State House speak with members of the press
11:30am - Deliver 10,000 (that's ten thousand) postcards to legislators, walking around the State House in costume to deliver our message: We want a treat (the Updated Bottle Bill), not a trick (more litter)!

RSVP to Gabi, at 617-292-4800 or

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Two Hundred Mark Hit: Norfolk becomes 200th municipality to endorse Updated Bottle Bill

Boston, MA – In a tremendous testament to the statewide support for updating the Bottle Bill, the coalition pushing the bill announced today that over 200 cities and towns have passed resolutions in support of this pending legislation. “It’s rare to see this kind of overwhelming agreement between big cities, small towns, eastern and western Massachusetts, and cities and towns everywhere in between,” remarked Geoff Beckwith, Executive Director of the Mass Municipal Association. “The message from Massachusetts cities and towns is crystal clear: the Updated Bottle Bill is good for our communities.”

Norfolk became the 200th municipality to urge the legislature to pass the Updated Bottle Bill. Receiving recognition for the milestone are (left to right) State Sen. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Town Selectmen James Tomaszewski, James Lehan, and Rob Garrity, and State Rep. Dan Winslow, (R-Norfolk)
The Updated Bottle Bill, H890/S1650, sponsored by Representative Alice Wolf (Cambridge) and Senator Cynthia Creem (Newton), would add water and juice bottles and similar beverage containers to the current deposit law, which puts a 5¢ deposit on most carbonated beverages. The deposit law, or Bottle Bill, on the books since 1983, is the single most successful recycling tool in the state, with 80% of covered containers redeemed or recycled every year.

“The numbers say it all: 77% public support according to a MassINC poll, 80 formal bill sponsors in the Legislature, and 204 cities and towns endorsing,” commented Rep. Wolf. “This bill will reduce litter, increase recycling, and save taxpayers precious dollars,” she added.

The town of Norfolk has the distinction of being the 200th town to pass the resolution. “Passage of this bill would be a huge help to all cities and towns, said Rob Garrity, Norfolk Town Selectman. “Everyone will benefit from cleaner streets and parks.”

The grassroots effort to get endorsements from cities and towns was launched last year. The effort reached an important milestone in May when 176, or more than half, of the 351 cities and towns in the state passed the resolution. On May 5, Mayor Tom Menino of Boston held a press conference to announce the halfway mark had been reached. At that event, Mayor Menino noted that Boston alone is estimated to save half a million dollars a year once the updated bottle bill passes. “I urge the Legislature to pass this bill,” he said.

The bill had a hearing before the Telecom, Utilities and Energy Committee on July 20, and awaits action by that Committee, which is chaired by Representative John Keenan (D-Salem) and Senator Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield). The coalition, spearheaded by MASSPIRG, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, Mass Audubon, and over 80 other organizations has called for the bill to be reported out of committee by November 1.

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See full list of supporting municipalities.