Wednesday, May 14, 2014

7 Reasons to Update the Bottle Bill (Updated)

Each year, about 1 billion non-deposit beverage containers are littered or thrown out in Massachusetts. That’s enough to fill Fenway Park to overflowing![1] An expanded bottle bill would help keep our public spaces beautiful and our wildlife safe and protected, as states with a bottle bill have seen a reduction in beverage container litter between 70% and 84%.[2]

 Decrease landfill use

While beverage containers make up only 5.4% of solid waste in Massachusetts by weight, they compose 15.2% of the Massachusetts waste stream by volume.[3]Most of these beverage containers are made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which never decomposes. Massachusetts is already running out of landfill space, and we currently export more than a million tons of trash to other states and countries each year. An expanded Bottle Bill would significantly reduce the volume of waste filling up our crowded landfills.

Increase recycling

The Bottle Bill couples with curbside recycling programs to achieve a high recycling rate for deposit containers. While curbside recycling is useful for beverages consumed at home, the Bottle Bill improves recycling for beverages consumed on-the-go and works 3-4 times better in capturing bottles than the curbside program alone, making it a perfect companion to curbside recycling.

Create green jobs

The creation of a bottle redemption system in many states has led to significant net job increase. In 2010, Massachusetts’ payroll for the recycling industry was $498 million and included 13,905 jobs[4] and a 2012 report estimates that updating the Massachusetts Bottle Bill would cause a net gain of over a thousand jobs in the commonwealth.

Conserve resources

The current bottle bill diverts approximately 150 thousand TONS of material from Massachusetts dumps and incinerators each year, saving energy and resources. The deposit system has recovered an estimated 2 million TONS of aluminum, glass and plastic containers since its inception in 1983, saving an estimated 13 million barrels of crude oil equivalent, and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions exponentially.

Save public funds

The Bottle Bill shifts responsibility for dealing with the waste from bottled beverages off of taxpayers and communities and onto the producers and consumers of the beverages. Under the updated Bottle Bill, bottlers and beverage distributors would pay a small cost per container. Since this small cost would cut into bottlers’ profits, they are the largest opponents of an update to the Bottle Bill.

Reestablish the Clean Environment Fund (which supports environmental programs in the Commonwealth)

Under the updated Bottle Bill, all unclaimed deposits would go into the reestablished Clean Environment Fund to support environmental programs throughout the commonwealth, helping pick up litter, maintaining our parks, and cleaning our lakes and rivers.  It is estimated that the government would receive about $20 million each year through additional unclaimed deposits with an expanded Bottle Bill.[5]

[1] Massachusetts Sierra Club, 2014.
[2]  “Litter Studies in Bottle Bill States”, Container Recycling Institute.
[3] “Analysis of Beverage Containers Within the Massachusetts Municipal Solid Waste Stream”, report prepared by the Massachusetts Sierra Club from Massachusetts DEP studies, 2012.
[4] “Bottle Bills Create Jobs”, Container Recycling Institute.
[5] Sean Sylver, Massachusetts DEP, 2013. Expanding the Bottle Bill would add 1.5 billion beverage containers to the number of deposit containers sold each year. 27.3% of these containers would not be redeemed, giving the state $0.05 per unredeemed container.

No comments:

Post a Comment