BOSTON, Mass. — Since 1982, every time a consumer buys a soda in Massachusetts, they pay a nickel deposit on the returnable container. Ditto for a beer.
Products like water, sports drinks, and iced tea have not required deposits, however.
A bill currently under consideration would change this system.
Representative Marjorie Decker is the sponsor of H 3289, which would expand the bottle bill to cover a much wider range of products and double from the deposit.
“The sports drinks, the water bottles, those weren’t things that we were purchasing in 1982,” Decker said. “In fact, we need to update the bottle bill because we know that those (drinks) dominate the kind of consumer purchases that are taking place.”
Decker thinks it’s time to move the state’s bottle bill out of the past and into the future. “This is a time in which we’re supposed to be aware of, and understand, what climate change is doing. Plastic pollution plays a really key role in killing our planet and the health of our water and our air.”
The goal is to reduce litter and the amount of garbage going into incinerators and landfills by getting the participation rate back up.
In 2010, 71% of eligible containers were returned. By last year, it had fallen to 50%.
“The statistics show that states that have increased their deposits have a much higher rate, close to 90%,” added Decker.
This does mean that more bottles would be coming back to stores for redemption.
“We believe that expansion is not the way to go,” said Brian Houghton of the Massachusetts Food Association.
Houghton says this bill would create a burden for stores. “We’re going to be forced to handle more containers which a lot of smaller stores don’t have room for to begin with. There is not the machinery to bring back the different types and sizes of containers.”
We asked shoppers outside a local store what they think of changing the bottle bill.
One woman said she thought it would encourage to people to recycle their bottles “rather than throwing them to the side of the road because I see them everywhere and it’s very disheartening.”
A man doesn’t think the bill would a make difference because he believes people will still litter.
Another man said he didn’t believe that recycling bottles and cans is a panacea, “but I do think it’s an integral part of trying to get under control and embrace all the issues we have with disposable garbage.”
Some communities have banned nips because they’re a big source of litter. This bill would require a deposit on the small bottles in hopes of getting them returned in the communities where they’re still sold.
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