Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Collecting Bottle Bill Evidence

When boating on the river, as I did yesterday morning, many plastic containers such as the ones pictured above are encountered.  They're escapees from our state's recycling program better known as the Bottle Bill.  The containers pictured above are comprised of empty spring water,vitamin enhanced water, and Gatorade bottles.  Each container was designed to be used just once.  All of them could have a better fate if we expand our state's Bottle Bill to include them.  Our neighboring states of Maine, Connecticut, and New York have already done so.

Of course these weren't the only unwanted items in the half mile section of the Sudbury River I paddled yesterday.  There were also glass bottles, aluminum cans, Styrofoam cups, plastic bags, a fluorescent light bulb, and nip bottles.  This picture shows the whole group, before the containers that could be included in an expanded Bottle Bill were separated out...

 
In the 7 years I've been braking for trash on various rivers, yesterday's haul was typical:
recyclable containers having no deposit outnumber those that do by a 3 to 1 ratio.   That figure agrees with the reported fact that 80% of containers with a 5-cent deposit are recycled whereas only 23% of those containers having no deposit are.  If we expand our Bottle Bill, we can reduce litter by about one third saving our cities and towns millions of dollars per year. 

Some respected civic leaders who support expanding our Bottle Bill include Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, and my State Senator Jamie Eldridge.  Additionally, there are groups that have long advocated for protecting our environment such as: Environmental League of Massachusetts, Sierra Club, MASSPIRG, League of Women Voters MA, and Mass Audubon.

Now, not every container found in the river is undesirable.  Every once in a while I see the outline of a glass bottle sticking out of the riverbank.  More often than not the bottle pulled from the muck is broken.  However, yesterday that wasn't the case when an old (1956) Cream Top milk bottle emerged completely intact with most of its original color label remaining...
The uniquely shaped bottle came from the Twin Maple Farm in Saxonville (a village in Framingham) which was located about a mile upriver from where I found it.  It was made to hold cream in the upper bulb shaped section and a quart of milk in the lower section. The label shows a bespectacled doctor and says: "See your DOCTOR once each year! See your DENTIST every six months!  Drink TWIN MAPLE MILK EVERY DAY".

This kind of bottle brings to mind a simpler time, long before our present "throw away society".  The rugged container would be conveyed to the customer's home by the friendly milkman, reside in the customer's ice box till empty, and then be returned for cleaning and sterilizing before, once again, being refilled with milk and cream.  It was just common sense and that equated to what we now call sustainable.

Certain beverage producers are spending millions of dollars on television ads in an attempt to convince us that deposits on single-use products are not necessary, yet they themselves use deposits to get back the containers they value.  I'm referring to those 5-gallon plastic bottles of Poland Springs or Belmont Spring water delivered to homes and businesses for use with dispensers and companies such as Budweiser who won't sell you a keg of beer without collecting a hefty deposit on said keg.  Oddly, these companies don't call their use of a deposit a "money grab".  However, that's the term they use in their anti-Bottle Bill ads when describing a 5-cent deposit meant to help get single-use containers recycled and out of the environment.  Just because beverage producers don't want their plastic and aluminum single-use containers back doesn't mean that we, as a society, can't place a value on those containers to help get them recycled and keep them from ending up as litter.

I think of the role being played by the Vote No on Question 2 folks in regards to our Bottle Bill being expanded as being just another obstacle to our progress.

Obstacles were many on the river yesterday.  There was this bony section looking upstream...

...and this beaver dam blocking access to the oxbow's outlet...

    ...and this mess of twisted wood a half mile downriver...

Rising water levels will eventually help in allowing passage of boats beyond all of them, just as rising awareness will help voters overcome the millions of dollars being spent by certain beverage producers and grocery chains to obstruct expanding our Bottle Bill.  They're wagering that folks will just buy their ad campaign's bogus numbers and won't investigate the issue themselves.  I'm hoping they're wrong and that folks will research the issue before ultimately deciding to vote Yes on Question 2.







3 comments:

Bernie Paquette said...

Beverage industry sinks $8 MILLION into fighting MA's bottle bill. Sierra explains bill's benefits: http://sc.org/1nYtwWd YesOn2MA

Bernie Paquette said...

Here is the full web address. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-sego/big-beverage-vs-the-envir_b_5929016.html

Suasco Al said...

Bernie, Thanks for the link. Great article.
The folks fighting our Bottle Bill today are the same folks who fought it back in 1982. Despite all the money they're spending, they cannot explain away the fact that in Massachusetts 80% of containers having a 5-cent deposit are recycled whereas only 23% of containers without a deposit are. I hope voters see through all the smoke and mirrors.