Advocates pushing for new bottle bill in Massachusetts

BOSTON — Environmental advocates are hoping to recycle the state’s nearly 40-year-old bottle bill and turn it into something new, more profitable, and more effective.

“The bottle bill is the single most successful recycling tool we have in Massachusetts,” said Janet Domenitz the Executive Director of Massachusetts Student Public Interest Research Group or MASSPIRG.

On Tuesday, Rep. Decker and Sen. Creem will host a press conference with MASSPIRG to launch a campaign in support of this new bottle bill.

Earlier this month, lawmakers on Beacon Hill heard from advocates who are looking to increase the return deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents. The bill would also expand on the types of bottles that can be redeemed.

“The kinds of things that were on the market when the law passed, was basically soda. Now we have bottled water, juices, iced teas, nips all these kinds of containers that didn’t exist when we passed this law initially,” said Domenitz.

According to Domenitz, more than 90% of the plastic produced has never been recycled. She also says people shouldn’t put all their hope in those blue recycle bins.

“The vast majority of plastics never gets recycled. It’s difficult to recycle, so putting it in the blue bin, a lot of it is becoming garbage now. It’s going to landfills and incinerators. It’s not being recycled,” she said.

In 2014, Massachusetts voters rejected a ballot question expanding the bottle bill, with 26% voting in favor and 71% against the proposal. Despite that, Domenitz says she thinks there’s a shift in attitude.

“I have gotten more texts, calls, emails from people who are just so frustrated at the amount of single-use containers right now,” she said.

Domenitz also blames the pandemic for an explosion of single-use packaging.

“There is a sensitivity now. We send 6 million tons of waste to the landfall in Massachusetts every year, and recycling has plateaued. We aren’t making progress. We need to double down on the ways we know how to recycle and how to reduce waste and litter. I do think the needle has moved for people,” stated Domenitz.

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