Bottle Bill

The price of bottle deposits hasn’t changed in decades. I would hope that we would increase each deposit to at least 10 cents, to more accurately reflect price increases, and furthermore that there be some sort of provision for a periodic update (say every 5 years, or every 3, or something like that) that reflects the consumer price changes over time. Otherwise we’ll be looking back 20 years from now and applaud your good efforts, but regret that the deposits haven’t kept up with the times.

14 replies on “Bottle Bill”

  1. The real need is not to increase the deposits, which would be mostly an irritation to consumers, but to increase the fees that beverage distributors pay to the people who operate collection stations (like the vending machines in supermarkets that crunch the bottles). The bill does increase those fees, which is critical to keeping the collection operators afloat.

  2. I respect the reasoning of legislators sensitive to the plight of consumers during these hard financial times, but isn’t it part of the responsibility of government to find ways to entrain members of society to act smarter? In terms of the big picture, namely climate change and global warming, the habits acquired by consumers over the past few decades to consume bottled drinks of all sorts is hugely counterproductive to any climate change mitigation efforts, since so much energy is required to produce those stupid bottles. So an increase in deposits would act as a very small and altogether healthy reminder that consuming bottled beverages has a global warming cost component that could be avoided.

    1. Fair point, but most of the advocates agree that it is much more important to (a) expand coverage to the beverages that are uncovered; (b) keep the collection providers afloat with a fee increase for them.

  3. The more containers that are covered at a 10 cents per bottle or can the better. One point that is not often mentioned is that cities, towns, and states have to pay public employees to pick up bottles and cans on roadways, parks, beaches, and forests. It might be hard to quantify, but there will be a real savings to taxpayers if tens of thousands, or is it hundreds of thousands, of bottles and cans are recycled rather than having to be picked up by public employees.

    1. I’m guessing that a lot of the litter right now is the non-covered containers — the advocates have prioritized addressing those. I think that makes sense.

      Your point that better recycling will save litter pickup costs is entirely well taken though!

  4. I heard yesterday that there is less money in the Governor’s budget this year for state parks. That continues a state tradition of cutting the state parks budget that goes back several years. I was wondering what is happening with the new bottle bill as much of the litter in the state parks and parkways is bottle and cans. Bottles and can that are even less likely to be picked up by the few remaining DCR employees.

    While some of those bottles and cans are non-deposit water bottles, most of the liter consists of 5-cent deposit soft drink and beer cans. If the deposit rate is raised to 10-cents for all bottles and cans, fewer bottles and can will end up as litter and it might even “pay” for the DCR to recycle bottle and can liter rather than the current practice of sending them to landfills.

    1. Re the DCR budget — yup, badly squeezed; went up for a year or two then back down. I do support the bottle bill as discussed above — I think it actually creates jobs as well as rewarding and increasing recycling — but it doesn’t seem to have a lot of traction, no doubt in part because some have concerns like those expressed by PJ below.

  5. Glad to see some discussion on the Bottle Bill and agree it definitely needs to be expanded for ALL other bottles and cans: non-carbonated, water, fruit juices and the like. I yearn for the ‘weaning’ of America where potable water is freely available and I doubt any healthy person has died of dehydration! The ubiquitous clutching of water bottles and thoughtless littering of same seems symbolic of the larger environmental struggles we face. A valuable “collection provider” in the area deserving of support is the Fernald Redemption center where the returns actually provide some employment and pay for some of the more able residents.

  6. I would prefer the bottle bill be eliminated. I counted 3 crushed bottles on my 2 mile walk arond Town the other day. It got me wondering who are the people throwing these bottles out on the Street? My first thought was those nasty bicyclists who run stop signs and red lights 😉 but I recalled last week having to put some bottles back into my curbside recycling bin that were blown out by the wind. Maybe we should ban curbside recycling bins or arrest messy bin pickers who come into our neighborhoods and potentially risk our kids. Or maybe we can make life a little simpler and less expensive for people during a recession and eliminate this tax and hope the culture of curbside recycling continues to grow and educate people on the cost savings to their town by recycling. Faith in the people to do what’s right is better than punishing all the people for the few who don’t. Say No to taxing healthy drinks like water or NH will continue to see it’s GDP grow as a result while MA continues to shrink.

  7. The Bottle Bill has been great over the years — no more flat tires on bikes from broken beer bottles and a great reduction of litter.

    I agree that the vendors should get more money, but 10 cents might be too high a deposit. AND, I DO NOT FAVOR EXTENDING the deposits to juice and water bottles. I already have too many deposit bottles sitting around in my basement ! It is very convenient to use curbside recycling for the juice bottles, cartons, etc. If these had deposits, I would feel compelled to pile them up and eventually drive them somewhere to get my refunds (thus wasting more gas). ALSO, I assume that my local town would LOSE MONEY, being deprived of whatever recycling revenue they get from this plastic.

    The fact that some crushed water bottles are littering my Town can be attributed to the fast and careless way that the recycling personnel pick up and dump the bins. (I have a lot of respect for their hard work, and don’t hold this against them.) While this “spillage” litter from recycling will be hard to reduce, a deposit on all this plastic is not the answer.

  8. Point taken,

    I don’t favor an increase in the deposit. I have continued to support the Bottle Bill though which does a number of other things to increase recycling including extending the coverage to juice/water, etc. There is a lot of waste of those bottles and we would do well to simply use our own usually excellent and plentiful local water.

  9. I am very much in support of the bottle bill since I am a dedicated recycler. However, I think that if there is going to be a deposit on water bottles, the bill must also mandate a significant increase in redemption facilities, maybe at city or state-run recycling centers. I don’t think most supermarkets in this area have the space to install enough machines to handle the quantity of bottles that we are talking about. If consumers are charged a deposit and then have nowhere to redeem the bottles or if supermarket redemption centers are constantly full to capacity (as they often seem to be), you are going to have a frustrated and irate electorate!! As it is now, I already drive around with a variety of recyclables sliding around in the trunk of my car, such as plastic bags, used CFL light bulbs, and beer bottles, which generally go to different locations. Consumers would be a lot happier about this bill if it would also create at the same time one-stop recycling centers to handle the demand.

  10. I agree with Lindsey,
    in the city it’s a pain to get your deposit back (I’m Sure the state loves that!)

    I recycle everything! and what I do is save all my bottles and cans and when I visit my
    Daughter in Tewksbury every week I go to the place on Rt38 that does nothing but give you back your deposit!
    I don’t know of anyplace in the Cambridge area that does this.

    My guess is the people that want to increase the deposit from 5 to 10 cents are looking at nothing more than a back door tax on the people that can least afford it.

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