Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Statement on the Bottle Bill Ballot Initiative Hearing

Statement from Janet Domenitz of MassPIRG regarding the Updated Bottle Bill Campaign:
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Today, the Joint Committee on Telecom, Utilities and Energy holds a hearing on one single piece of legislation: the Updated Bottle Bill, the proposal that would add the 5c deposit to beverages like water, iced teas, and sports drinks. Containers with a 5c deposit are recycled at a rate of 80%, while containers without a deposit are recycled at a rate of 23%.  The goal of updating the bottle bill is to reduce container litter and increase recycling.
Although this bill has been pending in the Legislature for over a decade, today’s hearing is specifically devoted to considering the Updated Bottle Bill initiative petition, which was circulated in the fall of 2013 and garnered over 130,000 signatures in less than seven weeks. The petition, similar to the legislation, gets its own hearing per the initiative and referendum process in the state’s Constitution. Meant to give legislators a ‘last chance’ to act before a petition is put on the ballot, proponents see today as a ‘first.’
“Although we have been before the Legislature lobbying for the Updated Bottle Bill for years, this is the first time we appear before this Committee with over 130,000 signatures from residents in each of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns,” remarked Phil Sego of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “This is a game changer.”
The 130,000 signatures placed the Bottle Bill Update at the top of a crowded field of petitions last fall, including a proposal to increase the minimum wage. Among the scores of groups and organizations which helped collect signatures were the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Arborway Coalition, the West Boylston Solid Waste Action Team, the Environmental League of MA, and MASSPIRG.
“If the Legislature doesn’t move this bill along to the finish line, they will be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “I think our coalition has now proven that the only thing more popular with the voters than the Updated Bottle Bill is motherhood and apple pie.” 
For more information-
Janet Domenitz, 617-292-4800, Janet.Domenitz@MASSPIRG.org
Phil Sego, 617-423-5775, Phil@SierraClubMass.or  

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