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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.