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Ten Reasons to Support The Bottle Bill Update

The 2007-2008 Bottle Bill Update would increase recycling rates by adding bottled water, sports drinks, iced tea, and other beverages to the current bottle deposit system. Since its inception, more than 30 billion containers[i] have been redeemed under the Massachusetts bottle bill, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy. But as consumers’ tastes change, the bottle bill must be updated to keep up with our times.

Keeping current with consumer habits

The original bottle bill was never meant to be non-reactive to consumer trends. According to former State Senator Lois Pines, the lead sponsor of the original bottle bill, “Had anyone the slightest inkling that in a few years containers filled with water, iced tea and juice would compose over 25%of the market, I would have absolutely drafted the law to place deposits on these containers as well. At the time of passage of the Bottle Bill, the only other drinks were small cans of pineapple and tomato juice which needed to be opened at home with a can opener!”

Decrease Landfill Use

The more trash we burn and bury in the Commonwealth, the worse our environmental problems become. Fourteen towns have lost drinking water from contamination suspected to come from leaking landfills. Drink containers take up space far beyond their weight.[ii]

Recycling and Energy

Covering non-carbonated containers would be good for recycling industries. Most of the containers under the proposed update are made of PET, 99% of which is petroleum. Reclaimed PET plastic bottles (RPET) are primarily used for textiles and non-food containers.[iii] But even though there is a severe national shortage of RPET, only 20% of all PET bottles are recycled[iv] – and this number is decreasing every year. At the same time, the nation’s consumption and disposal of PET bottles is skyrocketing. In 2003, an estimated 2.8 billion pounds of PET beverage bottles were wasted, up from 0.8 billion pounds wasted one decade earlier.[v] Had these bottles been recycled, we would have saved the energy equivalent of about12.8million barrels of crude oil.[vi]

Recycling

The Bottle Bill complements curbside recycling. About 68%1 of covered beverage containers are redeemed under the Massachusetts bottle bill; an additional 10-15% are estimated to be recovered through curbside programs. In states where deposit and curbside programs both operate, the number of containers recovered is far higher than in states without deposits. The Bottle Bill works in areas where curbside recycling is less effective. And it is the best solution for the millions of beverages consumed “on the go.”

Litter

Requiring a 5-cent deposit on all drink containers would decrease litter and increase recycling. States that have implemented bottle bills have experienced a 70-85% reduction in beverage container litter[vii] and a 30 - 35% reduction in overall litter [viii] after the bottle bill was implemented. In our waterways, non-redeemable containers are 9 times more likely to wind up as litter than deposit containers.[ix] Unlike many other materials, PET bottles NEVER break down, and they pose threats to marine life for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years.[x]

Public Support

The public is very supportive of the bottle bill. In a recent survey, 84% of Massachusetts residents support the expansion of the bottle bill[xi] and an effort mounted by opponents in 1982 to repeal the bill that was rejected 93% to 7%. Additionally, the Governor strongly supports the implementation of an updated bottle bill. The bill is also being supported by environmental groups throughout the state.

Producer Responsibility

Bearing the cost of a product's waste should be the responsibility of beverage producers and consumers, not taxpayers and communities. The bottle bill is a model for this kind of sustainable financing.

Jobs and the Economy

Gains in employment have been shown in nearly every state with deposit systems. In Michigan an additional 4,684 jobs were added to the economy. New York found that 3,800 new jobs were created in that state. Massachusetts and Vermont gained 1,800 and 350 jobs respectively.[xii] Many of these jobs come in the recycling sector, which now produces important – and sustainable – raw materials to be used in manufacturing.

Revenue

Unclaimed deposits currently provide $37 million annually[xiii] in badly needed funding. Under the expansion, more than $15 million would be added.[xiv] These funds should be placed in a restored Clean Environment Fund, helping to increase recycling rates, anti-litter campaigns, and parks maintenance. Revenue generated by the bottle bill is a voluntary fee, not a tax, since deposits are fully refundable to consumers.

Supporting the Redemption Centers

The bill includes provisions to increase the handling fee to 3 cents. Redemption centers have not had an increase in handling fees in 17 years. They are currently experiencing huge increases in operating costs; many of them have been forced to close. This increase would allow them to continue operating. Like the current handling fee of 2.25 cents, this increase would not be funded by the state.


[i] MA Bottle Bill Return Rate Information FY1990-2007 (DEP Report From DOR)

[ii] PET takes up 9.8 cubic yards per ton as opposed to 2.75 “average” landfill materials, BEAR Report, EPA Landfill Waste and Geotechnical Stability Report, Feb 2003

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid, 2002 Report

[v] Estimate provided by the Container Recycling Institute, using data from NAPCOR.

[vi] Estimate provided by the Container Recycling Institute, using energy savings factors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

[vii] ”The 10˘ Incentive to Recycle.” Container Recycling Institute, 2004.

[viii] Massachusetts DEP estimate, compiled by the Environmental Action Foundation.

[ix] Mass. Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement survey, 2003, conducted at Charles River Cleanup.

[x] National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)

[xi] Center for Policy Alternatives, 2003 Policy Summary, Environment/Bottle Bill

[xii] ”The 10˘ Incentive to Recycle.” Container Recycling Institute, 2004.

[xiii] Ibid

[xiv] Ibid

 
 

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