10/15: Mass. should bring bottle bill into 21st century
From Suffolk Journal
Mass. should bring bottle bill into 21st century By Ian Kea
It’s about time.
Thirty years after the Massachusetts bottle bill was first passed, it now has a chance to be updated on the ballot come Nov. 4, and voters should vote yes on Question 2, the expansion of the bottle bill.
According to bottlebill.com, Massachusetts is one of 10 states to have a bottle deposit system in place. But, the state’s bottle deposit system does not currently accept mainstream beverages such as water, juice and sports drinks. Only carbonated beverages have a deposit. The updated bottle bill would include non-carbonated beverage bottles.
The current bottle bill works as followed; retailers, like Market Basket, for example, give distributors, who sell to the retailer for a profit, a 5 cent deposit for each can or bottle purchased. When the consumer purchases a beverage, they are paying that deposit back to the retailer. When they return the can or bottle to a retail store, redemption center, or reverse vending machine, they are refunded for their 5 cent deposit is refunded. Essentially, the bottle bill is an incentive for the consumer to recycle. The end result is more recyclable materials, less waste is produced, more money is saved, and more help to eliminate the world’s carbon footprint.
Opponents of the bill, such as Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker and Coca-Cola, have argued that curbside recycling is already enough. Yet 80 percent of bottles attached with a deposit are recycled, compared to 23 percent of bottles without a deposit attached, according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. All unclaimed deposits would be given back to the state for environmental protection measures, saving taxpayers a small chunk of change come April.
Opponents of the bottle bill have also said it is a waste of taxpayer money, but according to the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, individual cities and towns can save approximately $7 million annually in avoided waste, recycling and litter collection costs through an expanded bottle bill, making it a fiscally responsible choice.
Every year across the commonwealth, more than 30,000 tons of non-carbonated beverage bottles are buried in landfills, burned, or littered throughout Massachusetts’ streets, parks, and beaches. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Sector of Waste and Recycling, that’s enough bottles to fill Fenway Park from the press box to the green monster five times.
For the 10 percent of Massachusetts residents who do not have curbside recycling, this expanded bottle bill not only gives an incentive, but also gives many consumers a new opportunity to recycle.
Massachusetts, according to Bloomberg.com, is the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient state in the country. The expanded and updated bottle bill would not only create a new standard for recycling in Massachusetts, but the nation as well.
Over the past decade, 210 towns in the commonwealth have passed measures supporting a new updated bottle bill, according to the Yes on 2 Coalition. Now it is voters’ turn to vote yes on Question 2, to save money, reduce litter, become more energy efficient, as well as create a new national standard for recycling.
The Bottle Bill is the state’s most successful recycling and litter prevention program. Since the Bottle Bill's inception in 1983, over 35 billion containers have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy. But to keep up with the times and consumer’s tastes, the bottle bill must be updated.
An Updated Bottle Bill would expand our container deposit system to include non-carbonated beverages, water, iced tea, juice, and sports drinks, which aren't covered under the current law. It would decrease litter, increase recycling, and add over 1000 green jobs.