The Massachusetts Bottle Bill, enacted in 1982, is designed to encourage consumers to return their empty soda and beer containers by means of a redeemable $0.05 deposit. Its principal objective is to reduce litter and encourage recycling of aluminum cans and plastic and glass bottles. The Massachusetts Legislature is considering several proposals to expand the types of containers subject to the $0.05 deposit to include those holding water, flavored waters, coffee based drinks, juices and sports drinks that are less than one gallon in size. This will keep our cities and towns clean, expand recycling, and provide additional revenue for recycling programs.
Why Expand the Bottle Bill?
Discarded cans and bottles are a major source of trash in our communities and waste precious natural resources and energy. When the Bottle Deposit Law l was enacted in 1982, the beverages covered by the law were limited to carbonated soft drinks, mineral water, beer and other malt beverages. Since that time, the beverage market has changed dramatically: bottled water, fruit drinks, iced tea and sports drinks are now some of the most popular choices available. Since 2000, non-carbonated beverages have experienced near double-digit growth and industry experts expect this trend to continue. However, these non-carbonated beverage containers are not covered by the Bottle Deposit Law, and they often end up in landfills or along the side of the road.
By revising the definition of "beverages", the Bottle Deposit Law can be brought up to date. Consumers will be required to pay an additional $0.05 on water, flavored waters, iced teas, coffee based drinks and sports drinks. This will reduce confusion among consumers about which beverages are eligible for redemption.
The expansion of the Bottle Bill is expected to generate an estimated $20 million in new revenue for the Commonwealth in unclaimed deposits. Governor Patrick has proposed to dedicate $6.5 million of the new revenue to the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) recycling and solid waste management program, which include:
- Recycling and related purposes consistent with the recycling plan of the solid waste master plan which includes municipal equipment
- A municipal recycling incentive program
- Recycled product procurement
- Guaranteed annual tonnage assistance
- Recycling transfer stations
- Source reduction
- Technical assistance
- Consumer education and participation campaign
- Municipal household hazardous waste program
- A recycling loan program
- Research and development
- Recycling market and business development