Bottle Recycling Leads to Political Battle and Case for “Real Reform”

By Real Recycling for Massachusetts, Special for US Daily Review.

Real Recycling for Massachusetts – an organization of citizens, businesses, trade organizations and unions that oppose a costly and inefficient expansion of the bottle bill – recently outlined the top 10 reasons why the bill is bad for Massachusetts.  The bottle bill measure, which has repeatedly failed to earn support from lawmakers, is currently under review again in the state legislature.

“In a tough economy the last thing Massachusetts consumers need is another tax and higher grocery prices to pay for a costly recycling system that doesn’t work,” said Chris Flynn, President of the Massachusetts Food Association and a member of Real Recycling for Massachusetts.  “Time and time again, state lawmakers have resisted moving bottle bill expansion forward, and for good reason:  this legislation would lead to higher grocery prices, create an added burden on small businesses, and place high quality jobs in jeopardy, all while having a negligible impact on our state’s recycling rate.”

Among the top 10 reasons why the bottle bill is bad for Massachusetts:

  1. The bottle bill is an unnecessary, new tax for consumers. The five cent fee that would be added to every bottle and can of juice drinks, iced tea, bottled water, flavored water, sports drinks and other beverages sold in the Commonwealth is a new tax at a time when the economy is still struggling. Proponents of the bill estimate that it would bring in almost $20 million a year from unredeemed containers.
  2. The bottle bill hurts local businesses. Expanding the bottle bill would cost retailers, grocers and beverage companies an estimated $58 million each year in additional operating costs.
  3. The bottle bill puts thousands of Massachusetts jobs at risk. An expanded bottle bill would impact 3,700 high quality beverage industry jobs in the Commonwealth.  Even a more limited expansion of New York’s bottle bill in 2009 led to plant closures and job loss.
  4. The bottle bill raises the price of groceries.  Expanding the bottle bill would raise the price of groceries by as much as $116 million a year and hurt those who can least afford it – low and middle income families who are struggling to make ends meet. Now is not the time to place additional financial burdens on hardworking Massachusetts families.
  5. The bottle bill has little positive environmental impact. Expanding the bottle bill would raise the state’s recycling rate by a negligible 1/8 of one percent (0.12 percent).
  6. The bottle bill is much more expensive than more comprehensive, effective recycling programs. The existing bottle bill costs three to four times more than a comprehensive curbside recycling program, and an expanded bill would cost about 10 times more. It would also create added costs in the establishment of a new, separate system for acquiring empty bottles and cans from retailers and restaurants all over the state.
  7. Expanding the bottle bill would distract the Commonwealth from more effective measures to improve recycling. Expanding curbside pickup, making it easier to recycle in public places and supporting comprehensive litter prevention programs are all better ways to improve recycling in Massachusetts.
  8. The bottle bill is unpopular.  The bottle bill has failed repeatedly to earn support from lawmakers every time the initiative has arisen. Last year, an attempt by proponents to place this legislation on the state’s 2012 ballot was unsuccessful after they failed to gather the signatures needed to move the ballot initiative forward.
  9. The bottle bill is outdated. The existing bottle bill was approved nearly 30 year ago before Massachusetts adopted widespread curbside and other recycling programs.  Today, nearly everyone in the Commonwealth has curbside recycling pickup, access to an area to take their recyclables or another similar program that makes it easier and more convenient to recycle – by including a wide range of paper, metal, plastic, glass products and packaging.
  10. The bottle bill is ineffective. The bottle bill focuses on a very small piece of the waste stream and does not include a variety of other materials included in more comprehensive recycling programs. It also forces grocers to use valuable retail space to redeem bottles, and it results in additional overhead costs for small businesses.

As an alternative to the bottle bill, Real Recycling for Massachusetts advocates for expanded recycling through measures that are more effective and less burdensome, including expanding curbside pickup, making it easier to recycle on-the-go, making recycling accessible in more public places such as parks and arenas, and supporting comprehensive litter prevention programs.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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