Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bottle Bill Expansion Needs Help

An article in today's Boston Globe by Bob Salsberg entitled "Activists Push for Expanded Mass. Deposit Bill" brought to mind Mark Twain's expression "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated".  In the article, Salsberg informs readers that there is one last hope for expanding the state's container deposit law to include non-carbonated beverage containers.  However, it must be voted on before a deadline expires this Friday.  Proponents claim having solid support from a majority of legislators, polled citizens, civic leaders, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  The expanded bill should easily pass if allowed to come to a vote.  Therein lies the problem.  A small but powerful group of legislators is turning a deaf ear to the measure's supporters. Instead, they are encouraged by the measure's opponents to prevent such a vote from ever occurring.  Good ole' Massachusetts politics 101 in action.

By visiting the Web site of those opposed to the bill, Real Recycling for, one can see who they are and why they oppose expanding the bottle bill.  Some of their points are understandable to me, such as the container redemption process taking too much valuable store space.  I can also agree with their assertion that promoting curbside recycling will go a long way in addressing containers generated by the typical household.  However, they don't offer a viable solution for containers purchased by folks "on the go" so to speak.  That's the hardest part of the puzzle, and expanding the bottle bill to include non-carbonated beverage containers, while not being perfect, will result in an immediate improvement, just as the original bottle bill did in 1983.  Do you remember all those beer and soda cans that magically disappeared?  I sure do.
My guess is that all parties would agree that empty plastic beverage containers should not be incinerated, buried, or released into the environment.  The picture above shows the empty containers recovered last week from a less than one mile stretch of river in eastern Massachusetts.  Most likely, those containers didn't come from someone's home, but rather from folks that were out and about.  I think of this stuff as "convenience trash".  However, if there'd been a small monetary bounty on them, they more likely would have been intercepted and redeemed before littering the landscape.  How could anyone not see the benefit in such redemption?

I believe all parties should work together in addressing the issue of "convenience trash".  It can be done.  For example, a redemption program such as the one the state of Maine developed solves some of the issues opponents raise:
  •  Stores can refuse to accept containers if they have an agreement with a nearby redemption center.  This is a good idea, and on driving through Maine I've seen numerous redemption centers exist to handle the used containers.  Some enterprising folks have even set kiddie pools by the roadside with a sign saying they'll accept your empty beverage containers.  
  • Redemption centers are allowed to have "commingling agreements" with distributers, thus allowing similar containers to be grouped together despite being different brands.
  • A handling fee of 4 cents is allowed compared to a paltry 2.25 cents in Massachusetts.  Is it any wonder our state has lost nearly all of its redemption centers?
Maine is showing us "you can get there from here".

To see other aspects of different bottle bills visit

My sincere hope is that Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Robert DeLeo, will reconsider his opposition to expanding the bottle bill and, instead, work to further improve it.  Please consider letting Speaker DeLeo know of your support for expanding the bottle bill.  His email address is:     

No comments: