Want to make a big impact on waste reduction with just a little effort?

By Jeana McNeil

This post is the opinion of a Recycling Committee member and does represent the view of the committee as a whole.

Many of our environmental and waste reduction challenges are big, thorny issues with complex long-range solutions.  It can feel like our actions as individuals are a drop in the bucket relative to what’s needed to make a difference.  With Question 2—the Updated Bottle Bill—we have a rare opportunity in Massachusetts to significantly reduce litter and landfilled waste with the stroke of a pen.

Here’s how:

A YES vote on Question 2 will update a successful 32-year-old law (the 1982 “Bottle Bill”) to include five cent deposits on water bottles, iced tea bottles, and sports drinks. Here are the facts about Question 2:

  • Currently, 80% of bottles and cans with a deposit on them are recycled, while only 23% of containers without a deposit are recycled. The rest of those containers become litter or end up in landfills and incinerators.
  • A recent Boston Globe poll documented 62% public support for updating the bottle bill. Many local and state environmental and civic organizations are leading the charge on Yes on 2, including Sierra Club, Mass Audubon, Environmental League of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and MASSPIRG.
  • The Updated Bottle Bill has been endorsed by 400 small businesses, and 209 cities and towns passed resolutions in favor of it.
  • When we began returning bottles for a deposit over 30 years ago, soda and beer bottles and cans were the litter problem. Beverages like bottled water, sports drinks, and iced teas were not widely on the market. We need to update the bill so more beverage containers will be recycled rather than ending up as litter.
  • The updated Bottle Bill will save our cities and towns approximately $6.7 million a year—or an average of $1 per person in our state–in litter pick up and trash disposal costs. You can find those figures in the Department of Environmental Protection’s study here. It also will mean less waste going to landfills and incinerators. And any unclaimed deposits will go to a state fund earmarked for recycling and environmental purposes.

With all these reasons in favor of the Bottle Bill expansion, you may be wondering why anyone would vote “no” or why we didn’t expand the law years ago.  The main opponents to Question 2 are corporations that profit from selling water and sports drinks and they’ve been working to block the measure for years. They’ve already put in $5.5 million dollars to defeat Question 2. Among those against this bill in the Legislature: Coca-Cola, Polar Beverages, Ocean Spray, and others.

To learn more about Yes vote go to Yeson2MA.org.

To learn more about a No vote go to NoOnQuestion2.com.

Please remember to vote on November 4.