Monday, February 24, 2014

Hearing for the Bottle Bill Ballot Initiative

On Thursday, March 6th, 2014, there will be a special hearing regarding the Bottle Bill Ballot Initiative. It will take place at 10am in room A1 at the Statehouse. Please show your support by attending this hearing and urging legislators to stop delaying the Updated Bottle Bill!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Report on U.S Recycling Rates Reveals Poor 20-Year Track Record

Press Release

Container Recycling Institute shows sales of disposable beverage containers have increased while recycling rates have stagnated

LOS ANGELES—October 29, 2013—The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) has just released its signature report on container recycling rates and trends in the United States. Based on more than two dozen data sources, from the beverage market to U.S. census tables, “Bottled Up: Beverage Container Recycling Stagnates (2000-2010),” shows that sales of disposable beverage containers have grown dramatically—up by 22 percent from 2000-2010—with per capita consumption soaring by 8 percent over the same period. Yet even as beverage sales increased, the rate at which we recycled the empty containers declined.

Of the 243 billion beverage packages sold in the U.S. in 2010—glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminum cans as well as foil pouches, gable-top cartons and other non-traditional containers—153 billion were either landfilled, littered or incinerated. This put the national wasting rate for 2010 at 63 percent, a nearly 10 percent increase over 2000, when the wasting rate stood at 59 percent, and a whopping 20 percent jump since 1990, when our non-recycling rate for containers stood at approximately 52 percent.

In other words, between 1990 and 2010—a period that saw almost feverish growth and investment in municipal recycling programs, education and infrastructure—Americans have persisted in wasting more beverage containers than they’ve recycled.

The report suggests numerous reasons for this imbalance, among them the surge in bottled water sales (up more than 400 percent since 2000) and sales of beverages consumed away from home.

“Recycling rates have stagnated in large part due to a dramatic increase in consumption of these beverages, especially at businesses and in public spaces where recycling bins are scarce,” said Susan V. Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute. “Another key factor in the decline in recycling rates is the unwillingness of state legislatures to enact effective recycling policies, especially new or expanded container deposit laws.”

Our failure to recycle nearly two out of every three containers has monumental environmental impacts. As the report notes, every beverage container that is not recycled must instead be replaced with a new container made from virgin raw materials. Extracting and processing these materials requires far more energy—and generates more pollutants—than making containers from recycled feedstock.

For example, if the 153 billion containers wasted in 2010 had been diverted back to the manufacturing stream, the U.S. could have saved the equivalent of 203 trillion BTUs of energy— enough to power nearly all the homes in the cities of Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

This level of recycling would also have eliminated the release of 11.6 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission—that’s roughly one-fifth of total GHG represented by America’s municipal solid waste, and equivalent to taking nearly 2.3 million cars off the road.

“To realize meaningful energy savings and reduce the GHG emissions associated with beverage consumption, beverage container recycling must dramatically increase across the country,” added Collins. “As the report points out, minor percentage changes in recycling rates won’t cut it. If we are to adequately reduce the environmental consequences of extracting, processing, manufacturing and shipping billions of short-lived containers, national recycling rates for all major container materials must edge above 90 percent. And the only recycling method that has shown to achieve anywhere near that level of recovery is the refundable container deposit, an early form of extended producer responsibility.”

As the report shows, the 11 U.S. states with container deposit laws in 2010 consistently recycled 66 percent to 96 percent of the containers covered under their laws, whereas the average recycling rate for all beverage containers in non-deposit states was just 30 percent. Even though deposit states represent only 28 percent of the U.S. population, in 2010 they accounted for 46 percent of all containers recycled during that year.

“Bottled Up” notes that if even a modest deposit of five cents were placed on all disposable beverage containers sold in the U.S., a 75-percent recycling rate could be achieved across the board. The report also makes it clear that if American beverage consumption continues to follow current growth trends, we must do more to capture and recycle the billions of containers consumed away from home.

Finally, the report emphasizes that failing to recycle these containers has economic consequences as well as environmental ones. Between 2000 and 2010, for instance, the scrap value of our wasted beverage containers exceeded $22 billion. And that’s not counting the economic impact of tens of thousands of domestic jobs that, according to an earlier CRI report, would be generated by a national container deposit.

The report can be downloaded at CRI's website.

Get your copy today!
Click Here to Get a Download Link

About the Container Recycling Institute (CRI)

CRI is a non-profit research and education organization whose mission is to make North America a global model for the collection and recycling of packaging materials to protect the environment and build a strong, sustainable economy. We collaborate with communities and companies to attain our vision of a world where no material is wasted.  For more information on CRI, visit

Bottle Bill Advocates Turn in Double the Needed Signatures

Press Release

Supporters of a ballot Initiative to update the state’s Bottle Deposit Law gathered on the steps of the Secretary of State’s office today to announce that they collected almost double the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

“From Salem to Stockbridge, from North Adams to New Bedford, we have signatures and support from citizens of every single one of the state’s 351 cities and towns,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “It’s hard to find someone who objects to reducing litter and increasing recycling.”

Although certification requires 68,911 valid signatures, the Updated Bottle Bill campaign gathered over 130,000 signatures, which is nearly double what is needed. “I carried two clipboards most of the time, to keep up with the crowds who wanted to sign,” said Andrew Fish, field coordinator for the petition drive and MASSPIRG associate.

The state’s bottle bill, the nickel deposit on soda, was originally passed by the state legislature over 30 years ago. The most successful recycling system in the state by far, the deposit covers only carbonated beverages, as those drinks were what was consumed when the original bill passed. Now water, juices, and sports drinks are rapidly taking over the marketplace, and there has been a sharp increase in litter of those types of containers. Recycling rates of soda bottles and cans, covered by the 5¢ deposit is nearly 80%, but only 23% of water, juice, and other non-covered beverages are recycled. Legislation to update the law has been pending on Beacon Hill for almost a decade. Earlier this year, supporters decided to take the proposal directly to the public.

This citizen-driven effort was spearheaded by a broad coalition of the state’s environmental, civic and advocacy groups including the Sierra Club, MASSPIRG, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the South Shore Recycling Cooperative, and the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts have been gathering signatures statewide. “We originally hoped to get 100,000 signatures, however we met with so much success and positive feedback, that we just kept going,” said Lynn Wolbarst of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

Now with 130,000 signatures turned in – more than 105,000 of which were certified by city and town clerks-- attention will turn back to the Legislature, which has several months to act on this bill before it heads to the November 2014 ballot.

“It defies logic, why the Legislature has sat on such a popular, common sense, and money-saving bill for so many years,” noted Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG. “Maybe this overwhelming signature drive will finally get the message to them to pass this bill.”
“Big business opponents have already started their ‘trash talk,’ calling this proposal a ‘tax,’” commented Ken Pruitt of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “The public isn’t going to swallow that nonsense.”

“It’s about litter and recycling,” added Ryan Black of the Sierra Club.  “There’s no other system that even comes close to having the same success.”

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