Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Legislative Committee Kills Updated Bottle Bill

Press Statement

Despite unprecedented and overwhelming public support, on July 30, a legislative committee killed the updated bottle bill by removing it from a pending jobs bill.

"Sadly it's becoming clearer that big business is dictating how Beacon Hill votes,” said James McCaffrey of the Sierra Club. “The bottlers and other big beverage interests trumped the people, the environment and the facts on this one."

Although the Senate included the bottle bill update in its version of the jobs bill, the House did not. Last evening, the Joint Conference Committee, which reconciled the differences between the House and Senate Jobs bill, filed its conference report, which struck the amendment.  The Updated Bottle Bill would have added water, juice, sports drinks and similar beverage containers to the current deposit law, which stands as the most effective recycling measure in the state.

With the support of 77% of the public, 208 cities and towns, Governor Patrick, and a majority of legislators, the measure should have been swiftly adopted. "Instead of Massachusetts taking home the gold medal, by disqualifying the public's opinion, the legislature gives us more litter, more waste, and less recycling." said Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG.

# # # 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Deception and Fear Mongering

Letter to the Editor, Boston Globe
by Alison Leary, Newton, MA

The deception and fear mongering are rampant in Chris Flynn’s diatribe on the bottle bill. (“Bottle bill is Anti-Massachusetts”, July 24th The Boston Globe). Mr. Flynn,a lobbyist for the supermarkets, is clearly panicking now that, despite his best efforts,that the Senate passed the Updated Bottle Bill as an amendment to the Jobs Bill.

This is a fully refundable bottle deposit, not a tax. You get the nickel back when you return the container. According to MA DEP data an updated bottle bill would save communities an estimated $7 million per year in combined trash collection and disposal. More than 200 cities and towns support the expanded bottle bill. Expanding the bottle bill is good for the economy and creates jobs. Thousands of people are employed by the recycling industry in Massachusetts. Adding deposits to more containers would provide work for more people and help small businesses, including the 140 redemption centers across the state.

Mr. Flynn is parroting the same discredited, self serving arguments that ensure  all costs are pushed squarely on the backs of communities, giving his industry a free pass.  If he was truly interested in maximizing recycling efforts then he would be supporting the expanded bottle bill, along with curbside recycling, which is the proven combination that prevents litter, saves money and reduces the number of recyclable material going into landfills.

# # #

Big Crowd Gathers at State House Calling for House Passage of the Updated Bottle Bill

News Release

State House, Boston—In the wake of the state Senate’s passage of the Updated Bottle Bill last week, and with Governor Patrick a huge champion, supporters gathered today to call on Speaker Robert DeLeo and the House of Representatives to finally pass the Update after 14 years.

In a poll conducted by MassInc Polling Group last year, 77% of the public supports the bill. In addition, 208 cities and towns have passed resolutions in support of the measure, 350 small businesses have endorsed, and neighboring states Maine, Connecticut and New York have already enacted an update.

“In the spirit of the Olympics, let’s get the updated over the finish line,” quipped Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG.

Environment and Energy Secretary Rick Sullivan, House sponsor Alice Wolf, Comedian and Activist Jimmy Tingle and over 20 legislators attended the event and voiced strong support of the measure’s passage.

Secretary Sullivan predicted that an update to the bottle bill will “double the recycling” in the Commonwealth.

Members of the House who attended and helped launch the House effort to pass the bill  included Representatives Marty Walz, Gloria Fox, Kay Kahn, Jonathan Hecht, Tim Madden, Chris Walsh, Rhonda Nyman, Frank Smizik, Denise Provost, Carl Sciortino, Tom Sannicandro, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Sarah Peake, James Cantwell, and Gail Cariddi.

Showing strong evidence that the Bottle Bill’s time has come, Jimmy Tingle said, “this bill has been in committee for 14 years. It took less time to build the Big Dig!”

# # #

For more information, visit www.massbottlebill.org

Monday, July 23, 2012

Groups release report, “The Impact of Updating the Bottle Bill on Jobs and the Economy

News Release

Updating Bottle Bill Results in 1500 Jobs 

As the Massachusetts Senate takes up the “Jobs Bill” (S.2350), two organizations released a white paper demonstrating that amendment #36, which would update the Bottle Bill, the 5-cent deposit on some beverage containers, would save and/or create 1500 jobs in Massachusetts in the recycling, collection, and manufacturing sectors.

“It’s simple math across the board,” stated Phil Sego of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “Recycling creates eight times more jobs than disposal, we’ll capture 1 billion containers for recycling every year if we update the Bottle Bill, and as long as we continue to toss those containers instead of redeeming them, the redemption centers will keep going out of business—half of the state’s redemption centers have had to close their doors in the last 10 years.”

Mike Kessel, of Beverly Bottle and Can Return, said “Updating the bottle bill will save existing jobs and create new ones.” The delay in passing this bill has been particularly hard on Massachusetts’s redemption centers. “There’s no question that if the Updated Bottle Bill were to pass, we would be adding jobs at our facility,” added Dave Hudson, Vice President of Strategic Materials in Franklin, MA.

The report includes research and statistics from the Container Recycling Institute, the Institute for Local Self Reliance, and the Mass Department of Environmental Protection, among others. While the most popular case for the updating the Bottle Bill is its effectiveness as a litter clean-up tool, an equally strong argument for the update is its potential to create jobs in the Commonwealth, a top priority for lawmakers as the legislative session draws to a close.

“As long as the Legislature fails to Updated the Bottle Bill, not only are we throwing beverage containers away needlessly, we’re throwing away good jobs in Massachusetts,” commented Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG, a co-author of the report. “The Senate should take this opportunity to include the Bottle Bill update in the jobs bill.” The Updated Bottle Bill, sponsored by Rep. Alice Wolf and Sen. Cynthia Creem, has been pending in the Legislature for 14 years and has been filed as an amendment to the Jobs Bill in the Senate today.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bottle Bill Advocates Call Proposal a "Sham"

News Release 

Advocates for updating the state's Bottle Bill, the nickel deposit on beverage containers, issued a harsh rebuke to a recent Mass Food Association "recycling" proposal. Bottle Bill proponents labeled the proposal a "sham," calling it a blatant attempt at greenwashing. The Mass Food Association is the lobbyist for the state's supermarket and grocery industry.

On June 14, the legislative Telecommunications Utilities and Energy Committee (TUE), under pressure from industry lobbyists, voted 10-7 to block a proposed update to the state's Bottle Bill. Although the advocates had announced days earlier the support of a majority of the members of both the House and Senate, the committee's narrow vote places a hurdle before the passage of the measure.

Lobbyists from the big bottlers, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Polar, Nestle, and Ocean Spray have been pressuring the legislature to reject this bill, which would update the existing bottle bill by adding water, sports drinks, and juices. These beverages were largely nonexistent when the original law was passed 30 years ago. Big businesses claim that an update to the state's bottle bill would decrease their profits.

The lobbyists' proposal commits $500K for 200 recycling bins to be placed in locations around the state and to study the effectiveness of pay-as-you-throw systems. "Pay as you throw" (PAYT) systems have been in place in communities around the state and have long been proven effective at increasing home-generated recycling. However, PAYT has no measurable effect on litter reduction or on beverages consumed on-the-go.

"Funding 200 new recycling bins in the state is a joke. Cambridge alone has nearly that many," said James McCaffrey of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. "Bottle litter is still everywhere, and the city's recycling rate is only 40%." Containers covered by the bottle bill are redeemed and recycled at 80%.

"Their proposal is simply a decoy, and they are not fooling anyone with it," said Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG "The bottlers are fighting the updated bottle bill, but pushing some sham instead. A couple of hundred blue bins don't pass the laugh test when compared to the effectiveness and support of the Updated Bottle Bill. ."

The bottle bill update has been one of the most talked about bills on Beacon Hill. Legislators have received over 30,000 emails and postcards, thousands of phone calls, and frequent visits from constituents. Nearly 2/3 of the state's cities and towns have passed resolutions asking their stare legislators to support the bill, and a recent poll, conducted by MassInc Polling Group, showed that 77% of the state's residents support an update. "Especially since those these votes were in opposition to the wishes of their own constituents," added Domenitz

 "The industry's offer will not make a dent in our municipalities' waste and litter costs," said Claire Sullivan of the South Shore Recycling Cooperative. "It's time for industry to share the burden with local governments. The bottle bill needs to be brought to the floor of both the House and Senate for a vote."


For more information visit www.massbottlebill.org

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rep. Turner Leads Effort to Raise Handling Fee

Press Release from the office of Rep. Cleon Turner - 6/27/2012 

State House, Boston- Representative Cleon H. Turner (D-Dennis) authored a letter co-signed by 21 members of the General Court to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, Richard Sullivan, asking him to increase the handling fee for the remaining redemption centers across the Commonwealth.

The bi-partisan group of Representatives and Senators said that because of the lack of an increase in recent years, redemption centers are going out of business at a rapid pace. An increase in the handling fee can either be done by legislation, or, as it has been done in the past, as an executive decision by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. This increase does not come out of, or add to, the $.05 deposit currently paid by consumers. Rather, the increase would be paid by the distributors.

The current handling fee in Massachusetts is 2.25 cents, which is low, compared to nearby states. In Maine, distributors are required to pay at least 4 cents per bottle, and distributors in New York and Vermont both pay at least 3.5 cents per bottle. According to a list from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, there are currently 55 redemption centers serving the 351 towns in the Commonwealth.

“The critical reason for this request is that redemption centers have not had an increase in the handling fee since 1990,” said Turner. “If a significant number of those centers go out of business before the bottle bill passes in the future, there will be insufficient services available to handle the increase in the number of redeemable bottles.”


For further information, please contact Elysse Magnotto in Representative Turner’s office at Elysse.magnotto@mahouse.gov or 617-722-2090.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wolf to Keep Fighting for Bottle Bill Vote

From State House News Service, 6/15/2012

After a bill to expand the state’s bottle redemption program to include additional beverage containers was sent to study Thursday, Rep. Alice Wolf said she'll continuing to fight for a floor vote. The Cambridge Democrat and House Elder Affairs Committee chair, who is giving up her seat at the end of her term, said she wasn’t surprised the bill was sent to study and that advocates “will be trucking on” in the effort. “We’re not folding up our tent. We’ll be continuing our work to bring it to the floor,” Wolf said, adding that the public demands the bill’s passage and many members are committed to seeing it through. When asked if that meant a recharged attempt next session, Wolf was adamant that she would try to get a vote on the bill before the end of formal sessions next month. “I’m not going to be around next session. We’re not talking about next session. We’re going to keep working because you can pull things out of studies, too,” Wolf said. Wolf said that a ballot question on expanding the bottle program, a tactic that advocates abandoned in favor of a legislative approach this year, is still an option for the future. “The updated bottle bill will become law in one way or the other, hopefully this year and if not, maybe next year,” she said.  The bill's critics compare the added deposit cost on beverages to a tax, say retailers will have difficulty handling higher volumes of returnables, and believe expanded curbside recycling efforts are a better way to decrease litter.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back-room, closed-door maneuvers postpone action on Updated Bottle Bill

Back-room, closed-door maneuvers postpone action on Updated Bottle Bill

News Release

Despite a legislative committee’s vote to bury a proposal to update the state’s Bottle Bill, proponents pledged to continue their push for the bill’s passage before the end of the legislative session.

“The idea of sending it to a ‘study’ is an insult to the public of Massachusetts,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “The bill has been studied, restudied, and studied once again. Seventy-seven percent of the public supports it, a majority of legislators (105) are on record endorsing it, and 208 cities and towns have passed resolutions in favor of it. Burying this bill today shows how profoundly out of touch a few legislators on this one committee are with their constituents. There is no alternative, better way, nor substitute for the enormously successful deposit system.”

Efforts to update the state’s 5-cent container deposit law have been pending in the State Legislature 14 years. The liquor lobby and powerful special interests have staunchly opposed the bill, citing decreased profits.

“The Massachusetts Legislature has been thwarting the will of the people since 1998,” stated James McCaffrey, Director of the Sierra Club. “We applaud those legislators who voted and spoke against burying the Bottle Bill, but the only explanation for what happened on Beacon Hill today is that the corporate special interests are in control. This committee is ignoring the
Governor, our cities and towns, the public, and a bipartisan majority in both houses who want to actually vote on updating the Bottle Bill.”

Proponents reiterated that they simply want a full vote by the House and the Senate. For over a decade, a few legislators in leadership positions have delayed, deferred, and buried this bill in back-room, closed-door maneuvers.

Proponents point to majority support in both the Massachusetts House and Senate, and vow to bring it to the floor for a vote. “A bill with 77% public support should not be bottled up in committee,” added Pam Julian, Legislative Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

#     #     #

How did each member of the committee vote?

Against the Bottle Bill
Rep. John Keenan (D-Salem)
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster)
Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell)
Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield)
Rep. Stephen DiNatale (D-Fitchburg)
Rep. Paul Adams (R-Andover)
Rep. Carlo Basile (D-East Boston)
Rep. Tom Golden (D-Lowell),
Rep. John Mahoney (D-Worcester)
Rep. Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich)

For the Bottle Bill
Sen. Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield)
Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton)
Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton)
Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow)
Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Quincy)
Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood)
Rep. Walter Timilty (D-Milton).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

PRESS STATEMENT It's time to bring the Bottle Bill Update to the floor for a vote

It's time to bring the Bottle Bill Update to the floor for a vote. 

For Immediate Release 
May 23, 2012

Every day, Massachusetts residents send over 1½ Million water bottles to our landfills and incinerators. The recycling rate of these containers is a pathetic 22%. At the same time, carbonated beverages, like Coke and Pepsi, are recycled at 80% due to the overwhelming success of the State's bottle bill, the 5¢ deposit on beverage containers.

Big business has been using their influence to "bottle up" the bottle bill update for 14 years. Despite overwhelming support for the update by the public (77% support an update according a poll by Mass Inc), Gov. Deval Patrick, and a majority of state legislators, the bill is still stalled.

It's time to bring the Bottle Bill Update to the floor for a vote.

# # #

Monday, April 30, 2012

Contrary to Media Buzz, Bottle Bill Still Alive

News Release

BOSTON—As Mark Twain once said, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Contrary to some news reports about the Massachusetts House of Representatives budget deliberations, the Updated Bottle Bill WAS NOT voted down during the budget debate. While over 800 amendments to the budget were filed last week, and the Updated Bottle Bill was among those amendments, the vast majority of those amendments never saw the light of day. The amendment that included the Updated Bottle Bill was among those never considered by the members of the House of Representatives.

But, this serves as an important reminder that the bill, H890/S1650, is pending in the Telecom Utilities and Energy (TUE) committee. The committee has procrastinated past the March 21, 2012 legislative deadline. Action on this proposal, which would cut down on litter and increase recycling, has been delayed by the Legislature for over a decade, and the public is understandably impatient.

The Updated Bottle Bill enjoys the support of 77% of the public, according to a poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, and 208 cities and towns have endorsed it, as have 375 small businesses. The bill needs to be released from the TUE Committee and brought up for a vote now.

# # #

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bottle Bill Vote High Priority for Local Municipalities

208th Town Endorses HB890/SB1650

News Release - Monday, April 9, 2012

Falmouth - On Thursday, April 5, the town of Falmouth became the 208th municipality in Massachusetts to pass a resolution endorsing the Updated Bottle Bill (HB890/SB1650). The bill would add water, juice, and other containers to those beverage containers which already have a 5 cent deposit. “ This was a long battle that involved bringing it before the Board of Selectmen twice, getting a warrant article issued, attending precinct meetings, getting our message out, and sitting through 15 hours of Town Meeting until the article was taken up for vote. But we did it,” said Janet Kluever, a Falmouth resident who has taken on this issue for the Falmouth Climate Action Team. A statewide poll conducted by MassINC Polling Group last year showed 77% support of the Updated Bottle Bill, with particularly high numbers for coastal areas.

Frustration with the Legislature, which has been sitting on this bill for over a decade, is mounting, and municipal actions like this are aimed at prompting legislative action. Falmouth is represented in the Legislature by Rep. Tim Madden, a longtime supporter of the bill, Rep. David Viera, who has not endorsed the bill, and Senate President Therese Murray who has not endorsed the bill. “We hope our elected officials now see clearly that this issue is a priority for Falmouth residents,” said Kluever. “This bill will reduce litter on our beaches, and save Falmouth thousands of dollars in trash disposal costs.”

# # #

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Legislature Delays on Bottle Bill Again

Press Statement from Campaign for an Updated Bottle Bill

While it may be the first day of spring on the calendar, the Legislature stopped the clock today when the massively popular Updated Bottle Bill was stalled once again. The Joint Committee on Telecom, Utilities and Energy, chaired by Rep. John Keenan of Salem and Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield,  ‘extended’ their review of the Bottle Bill until 6/15/12, almost one full year after the public hearing where it was considered, and  just weeks before the end of the session.    

“This popular measure, which would increase recycling and reduce litter, has been ‘extended’ for over a decade,” commented Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “This bill, supported by 77% of the public, 207 cities and towns, and hundreds of small businesses, has been bottled up way too long.” 

Eva Valentine, president of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts said, “Our membership is profoundly disappointed by a process which is dragging out and deferring action on such an important bill.” 

The campaign for the updated bottle bill includes over 90 organizations, among them the Environmental League of MA, the Mass Municipal Association, Mass Audubon, and many more. In addition,  350 businesses and 207 cities and towns have all passed resolutions in support. “The delay follows 14 years of inactivity on the bill as corporate special interests have repeatedly derailed the democratic process on Beacon Hill.   The good weather brings us outside, only to be reminded of the litter and waste that clutters our neighborhoods and parks because the legislature has failed to vote on this bill," said James McCaffrey, Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

# # #

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated Bottle Bill Campaign Announces Business Support

State House, Boston—In a move designed to counter the big business lobbyists who oppose the bill, the Campaign for an Updated Bottle Bill today launched “Businesses for the Updated Bottle Bill,” an effort which has already garnered the endorsement of 350 small businesses around the state.

"It's fitting that we hold this event on Valentine's Day. As a small business owner, I'm here to say I love the idea that we can decrease litter and increase recycling with the passage of this bill," said Jodie Siegel, owner of "Clear Your Space," a Boston-area business that works with residents and businesses to increase efficiency and reduce waste.

“We’re tired of business as usual, seeing water bottles littered everywhere, when we could be recycling them so easily,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG, one of the lead groups in the Campaign. “And we’re tired of the big business lobbyists complaining about this bill. We’re here today to show that small businesses, the backbone of the Massachusetts economy, support this bill.”

The original Massachusetts Bottle Bill became law in 1982 when juice, water and sports drink bottles were not part of the beverage market. Because the Bottle Bill does not cover these drinks, millions of containers are ending up as litter or in our landfills and incinerators, costing our cities and towns money in expensive disposal fees.

Today’s event was the launch of this effort, but outreach done by the League of Women Voters-MA, Mass Recycle, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, MASSPIRG, and others resulted in a huge demonstration of support from small businesses. These 350 businesses join a crowded field of supporters of H890/S1650.  A statewide poll conducted by the MassINC Polling Group in 2011 showed 77% of Bay State residents support an update to the Bottle Bill. As of press time, 206 cities and towns in Massachusetts have passed local resolutions in support of the update.

“As a small retail business owner on the Cape, I am painfully aware of how much litter impacts the look and attractiveness of a business area. I heartily endorse the Updated Bottle Bill for many reasons, with litter being among the top of them,” said David Abel, co-owner of the Orleans boutique “Weekend.”

The Legislature has yet to take this bill up in the 2011-2012 session, and it has been pending for several years. “Today's event, showing the support of many businesses, propels the momentum of this bill. Updating the bottle bill will create jobs, lower costs for cities and towns, clean up parks, rivers, streets and highways and is popular with people across the State,” commented Representative Alice Wolf, the chief sponsor the bill. Senator Cynthia Creem serves as the chief sponsor in the Senate.

The Updated Bottle Bill Campaign, comprising 90 organizations including Mass Municipal Association, Mass Audubon, Sierra Club-MA, Environmental League of MA, Surfriders Foundation, and many more, is expanding its outreach to small businesses to counter the influence of the big businesses which oppose the bill.

#   #   #