This November, Massachusetts voters will have an important opportunity to reduce litter and further their state’s commitment to recycling through a ballot referendum. Question 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot — also known as the bottle bill – would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law.Massachusetts voters should be informed about the effects of Question 2 and we urge you to vote in favor of it. A yes vote will expand deposits to containers not currently included under the law — nonalcoholic, non-carbonated drinks. The proposal also includes a provision requiring the state to adjust the container deposit amount every five years to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. Future deposit rates could not be set below five cents if passed.
Conservation and community groups have lobbied for years for the expansion of the bottle bill to include plastic bottles of non-carbonated beverages. Supporters of Question 2 argue that the existing bottle bill is not expansive enough. Statistics show that while 80 percent of beer and soda containers get recycled, only 23 percent of nondeposit containers do. Although opponents of the bill argue that the price hike will be costly to consumers, the solution is simple: Consumers can get back their five cents if they recycle the bottle. The money leftover from consumers who do not collect their deposit would enter a re-established Clean Environment Fund to be used for cleaning up parks and other environmental projects in the state. Expanding this law would not only increase recycling and decrease the amount of recyclable items in landfills, but, according to the Coalition for an Updated Bottle Bill, could also save up to $7 million annually for municipalities by reducing costs of trash removal.
While a yes vote would expand the bottle bill effective April 22, 2015, a vote against Question 2 this November would leave the law as it currently is. Opponents of the bill argue that the proposal wastes taxpayer dollars to expand an outdated system and instead, Massachusetts should seek other methods to increase recycling. An alternative plan was proposed to repeal the bottle bill entirely, but research from the Sierra Club Massachusetts determined that this plan would result in significant job loss as well as a reduced recycling rate.
Local communities along with groups such as Mass Audubon Society and the Merrimack River Watershed Council have voiced support for Question 2. On Nov. 4 voters will get a chance to speak up as well. If you plan to vote on Nov. 4, don’t ignore the ballot initiatives like the bottle bill. Instead, voice your support for a cleaner environment by voting in support of the referendum.