By Brooks Ballenger, UAW 2322 Servicing Representative
Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s we did lots of door knocking, petitions, and lobbying activities trying to get a bottle bill passed in Massachusetts. One of my favorites was the “Can to King” campaign, where we flattened soda cans and mailed them to Governor King, a staunch opponent of any pro-environment legislation. We finally passed the original Bottle Bill in 1982.
The Bottle Bill, the nickel deposit on beverage containers, is the state’s most successful recycling and litter-prevention program. Since the Bottle Bill’s passage, over 35 Billion containers from carbonated beverages have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy. But to keep up with the times and consumers’ tastes, the bottle bill must be updated.
The current Bottle Bill doesn’t cover non-deposit containers. These containers are three times more likely to be found as litter in Massachusetts communities. An updated Bottle Bill would expand our container deposit system to include “new age” drinks such as non-carbonated beverages, water, iced tea, juice, and sports drinks.
Soda, and other cans and bottles, are redeemed at approximately 70%; another 9% are recycled via curbside programs. Containers that are not covered, such as bottled water, juices, and sports drinks, are recycled at only 25%. For 12 years, updates for the Bottle Bill have been blocked in the state legislature. With Question 2, voters will have a chance to expand the law themselves to cover containers for non-carbonated beverages. Nearly 1.4 billion containers not covered by existing legislation are currently found in litter and landfill waste. A total of 208 of Massachusetts cities and towns endorse the updated Bottle Bill.
Updating the Bottle Bill will:
- Increase the number of bottles recycled annually from 600 million (40%) to 1.2 billion (80%).
- Save cities and towns between $4.2 and $6.9 million annually
- Make our streets, parks, rivers and beaches cleaner and safer
- Result in a net gain in domestic jobs.
That’s Why I’m Voting Yes on Question 2: The Expanded Bottle Bill