As we all know, the state is facing serious budget challenges amid an unprecedented nationwide recession. While reflecting some tough choices, the Fiscal Year 2010 budget Governor Patrick filed today with the Legislature still holds some good news, including a proposal to expand the bottle bill. As Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), with responsibility for helping municipalities reduce the solid waste they dispose of in landfills by increased recycling, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
By extending a nickel deposit to water, juice, energy drink, and sport drink bottles, we will reduce litter, expand recycling programs, and generate revenue for water rate relief, as well as a little bit of revenue for the state budget. And, the increased recycling of these materials will help sustain and create jobs in Massachusetts through increased collection, processing and remanufacturing of these valuable materials (aluminum, plastic, glass).
This has been a long time coming. The Massachusetts bottle bill was enacted in 1982, imposing a redeemable 5-cent deposit on cans and bottles of beer and soda. Back then, no one could have guessed the proliferation of bottled water and other non-carbonated drinks that we now have on our shelves – and whose empties now litter our roadways and parks.
From 2000 to 2005, containers of carbonated beverages increased just 5 percent, while those of non-carbonated drinks rose 95 percent. And in terms of recycling, a nickel makes a difference: 75 percent of deposit bottles get recycled, while only an estimated 35 percent of non-deposit containers do.
It’s time we brought our deposit law up to date, treating all the bottles that look the same (what’s the difference between a Coke bottle and a Dasani bottle other than the label?) the same way, and making sure they all get disposed of responsibly – reducing litter, reducing wasted resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
And the expanded bottle bill will help generate $20 million a year, including $5 million for grants to municipalities to increase residential recycling, expand recycling in schools and public spaces, and provide technical assistance to reduce municipal solid waste management costs. Of the rest, $10 million would go to MWRA ratepayer relief, and $5 million to the General Fund.
To learn more about the proposal click here.