Support is growing for expansion of Massachusetts bottle bill.
The state’s bottle bill now requires deposits only on soda and beer bottles and cans, but lawmakers are trying to expand the 5-cent deposit to also include bottled water, sports drinks and other beverage containers.
Supporters say the bill will improve recycling rates. About 80 percent of soda and other containers covered under the existing bottle deposit law are redeemed or recycled but only an estimated 22 percent of other uncovered bottles are recycled, according to the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts chapter.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a report recently stating that bottle return machines have the capacity to accept more containers of different types. The agency also said municipalities could save a combined $7 million a year in avoided trash costs under expected improvements in recycling.
But some businesses oppose the expansion because they say it adds cost for the retailers that have to accept the deposits and for beverage distributors that have to pay redemption centers.
Retail groups and beverage manufacturers say the money would be better spent improving curbside recycling programs.
Advocates have been pushing for an expanded bottle bill for years, and now there are 13 different bills pending that would make changes to the state’s bottle deposit law, including one that would repeal it altogether.
The bills would also re-establish a Clean Environment Fund so that unreturned deposit money can be set aside for recycling and environmental projects and boost a fee that beverage distributors pay to bottle redemption centers.
Current MA bottle bill: http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/bbillcon.htm