Saturday, October 29, 2011

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

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