Supporters of an expanded bottle bill rallied in Boston this week to urge lawmakers to bring the bill up for a vote before the end of the legislative session. The expansion of the bill would include a five-cent refundable deposit for non-carbonated beverage containers, such as those for water, juice and energy drinks.
The main benefits of the bottle bill are:
- It will help keep litter off our streets through the “nickel incentive.”
- It will save municipalities’ collection and disposal costs
According to a state DEP study, there would be an annual cost savings of up to $7 million across the Commonwealth. Holyoke’s DPW has said that no other bill being discussed right now would have more of an impact on saving taxpayer money and keeping our streets clean than the expanded bottle bill.
There is potential for additional economic benefit by creating new jobs to handle the increase in bottle redemption, and charitable groups, such as local athletic clubs or scout troops, could potentially raise millions of dollars.
Some critics have labeled this deposit as a “tax,” but the fact is that the five cents for each bottle is a refund that would be returned to the purchaser at redemption.
Other opponents have said that an expanded bottle bill will result in higher costs for consumers and small businesses that handle the redeemed bottles. This claim was examined by surveying businesses in neighboring states. Maine has an expanded bottle bill and, by contrast, New Hampshire has no deposit. DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell testified that his staff found no difference in costs between Massachusetts and the two other states. Business owners and store managers in Maine reported no problems absorbing the additional load of bottles.
A majority of Massachusetts is already on board. Last year, MassINC released a poll showing that 77% of residents are in favor of expanding the bottle bill.
More than half the cities and towns in Massachusetts have supported an expanded bottle bill through ballot resolutions. A majority of legislators and Governor Patrick would vote for if it was up for a vote, but it has languished in committee for years.
During this time the streets of Holyoke have been littered with plastic and glass, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands in additional clean-up costs. This senseless waste of our limited financial resources needs to end.
It is time for the legislature to pass this bill before the end of the formal session on July 31.