Expanded bottle bill is a no-brainer

By , September 14, 2014 7:46 pm

Back in 1982 Massachusetts passed the bottle bill that put a 5 cent deposit on soda and beer containers. I remember when this law came in and bemoaned the increase in the cost. It seemed to me that the price of drinks went up a little more than the 5 cents per container. But we all got use to it and got use to returning our empties.

Times have changed. Back in 1982 we didn’t have sports drinks, energy drinks, and people weren’t as willing as they are today to pay 2000 times more for a small bottle of water that’s essentially identical to the stuff coming out of their faucets at home.

I am definitely voting in favor of the expanded bottle bill and hope you’ll do the same.

20 Responses to “Expanded bottle bill is a no-brainer”

  1. Mike Carney says:

    Does the increase revenue go into the general fund or to specific and probably related programs like health insurance? If it goes into the general fund I’m against it. It’s not about the increased cost, it’s about throwing more money into the government pig trough for politicians to spend on pet projects and then claim that there’s not enough money in the budget so they have to raise taxes again!

  2. bumpkin says:

    Well there is no increased revenue per se. When you return a bottle – you get 5 cents and the store gets 2.5 from the company(Coke or Budweiser for example). Any unredeemed returns go to the state. This was around $33M in 2011. If everybody returned every container that state would get nothing. Currently just over 70% of containers that *could* be returned for deposit *are* being returned for deposit in Massachusetts. The state has been fighting this for years – afraid that it would be taken as a tax. This time around environmental types finally took it upon themselves to put it on the ballot. So I don’t think this is some plot by the state to get more tax revenue. To me this is a litter issue.

  3. Mike Carney says:

    Well, it’s both. If the revenue it creates goes into the general fund, the pols will get used to it being there and cry poor if/when people recycle everything. If the bill included a clause that said that any monies raised by the state would go to public park beautification, or to MDC golf course maintenance/renewal, or to the CPA, or whatever, THEN it would be a no brainer. Now, no matter what the environmental types say it is, it *is* a new tax that goes into the general fund, so it’s not a no brainer.

  4. bumpkin says:

    I don’t agree Mike. If you return all your containers you are not paying any more than you do now. Unredeemed deposits revert to the state. I see your point about earmarking the money but my view of your point is largely obscured by the thousands of discarded non-deposit containers I see when I do litter pickup in Middleboro.

  5. bumpkin says:

    On second thought I love the idea of earmarking the money for something. A lot of state parks are under-maintained or even mostly closed due to lack of funds. We should contact our state reps about that.

  6. Mike Carney says:

    As to your first response, that’s if I’m 100% effective at returning my containers… which I never do because my town recycles and that’s a whole lot easier than returning the cans/bottles myself… which means that it absolutely is a tax on me and every other person that’s doing the right thing and recycling them, and not wasting gas to go to/from the store to get my $0.05 cents back on that bottle. Also, as you said above, “Any unredeemed returns go to the state. This was around $33M in 2011…” that’s a $33M tax on the public with the existing deposits all going into the general fund. No thanks.

    As to your second response… glad that you’re seeing the light 🙂 Forcing questions (and/or bills) like this to spell out exactly where the money goes gives the public, NOT the politicians control. I’d be happy to pay an extra dime on a bottle of water, if, and only if, I KNEW that that dime would go toward improving the environment or some other thing, and not to pay the salary of some hack nephew of a rep. that’s doing a job that doesn’t need to be done, or to support a public sector union guaranteed pension/entitlement that should never have been there in the first place. So, for me, it’s a no vote on principal… I’ll still recycle everything anyway just because it’s the right thing to do.

  7. bumpkin says:

    Meanwhile the litter problem – and that’s what this is to me – remains.

  8. Mike Carney says:

    * principle, not principal… D’OH!

  9. Mike Carney says:

    Yes. There is a litter problem, and it’s getting to be less and less of a problem not because of things like deposits on bottles (although that does help), but because cities and towns offer convenient recycling as part of garbage pick up, and general awareness is going up:

    ““The good news is that over that 40 year period, littering has declined more than 60%,” says McKenna. Chalk that up to awareness and recycling.”


  10. Mike Carney says:

    So, the net/net is that I think littering will continue to decline and that deposits on cans and bottles will continue to go unclaimed putting more money into the general fund for the overall stage budget to continue to bloat unabated.

  11. bumpkin says:

    I can tell you firsthand from actually walking down the road and picking up trash that these non-deposit containers are a huge problem. Middleboro has had a top-notch recycling program for 20 years. Somehow that nickel either gets people to stop throwing them out – or gets other people to pick them up for the money.

  12. bumpkin says:

    Mike – question: Do you put your deposit containers into your curbside recycling? I’m guessing no. If the bottle bill gets expanded then you won’t be putting those in either. You will return them and give no money to the state. The problem with littering is generally not from responsible people with a recycling bin in their house. It is some moron driving down the street or riding his quad out in the woods – and throwing their drink away. For some reason that nickel deposit keeps the soda and beer cans off the roadside.

  13. Mike Carney says:

    You’d be guessing wrong. I do put them in my curbside recycling. And if the bottle bill gets expanded, I’ll still put all the old bottles with deposits, AND the new ones with deposits in the curbside recycling. Yeah, I’m throwing away some money, but I’m saving the hassle AND being good on the environment.

  14. bumpkin says:

    You can be sure that your recycling is going to a transfer station where a picker is taking your container out of the recycling stream and turning it in for deposit. To each his own. I think we’ve hashed this out sufficiently and will just have to agree that the other guy is a dummy 🙂

  15. Rich P says:

    Well that has been quite a diatribe… Good reading so I thought I would chime in.. Mark I do understand the littering problem, but since 1982, curbside and the entire recycling program has improved so, so much, a bottle bill is a regressive tax. Even street corners now have recycling containers. you will never stop the very small percentage of idiots who throw waste out their windows…

    A few years ago, (2012)I sent this letter to Representative Calter when this was in the Governors budget. (No reply at the time)and I believe he ended up voting for it. Thought I would forward it here since my opinion has not changed much.

    Over the past several years, local Cities and Towns have dramatically improved and simplified the pickup, collection and disposal of recycling materials. You can now put all metal, glass and plastic into one easy container for pickup by the town DPW. Towns have also spent a lot of money to improve and organize this service which is paid for by the homeowner. In Middleboro (and most communities) trash pickup is a separate entity and an additional cost to the homeowner outside of normal real estate taxes.

    I believe the town pickup system works very well and should be ENCOURAGED by the State, not competed against with a larger pay as you go bottle deposit method. I urge you to vote against this change for the upcoming budget. In my opinion we should be pushing to remove the bottle bill entirely in the hopes of better advertising and marketing to have citizens recycle through their own town DPW curbside pickup. It is a much easier, cleaner and sanitary way to recycle bottles and cans and cardboard.

    Negative impacts of bottle deposits.

    1. Stores that sell these items have to allocate space, time and money to sort, collect and return these items. You probably notice when you return bottles, it is the most unsanitary area of the store. There is not a large push by store owners to have quality recycling centers.

    2. We will have dual services for the same problem since DPW departments will still require to collect recyclables as they currently do. Removing water and other bottles from the normal recycling will not save one job or one dollar. Also, towns have received cash incentives to promote active recycling.

    3. Most people collect and store these items at their house much longer than scheduled trash pickups. This results in longer storage meaning dirtier and contaminated containers. Regular pickups and recycling through the Town and DPW maintain cleaner homes and businesses.

    4. There is a higher possibility of bugs, germs and disease getting into people’s houses, garages and cars since they all have to hand carry recyclables to stores.

    5. Automobile use and gas consumption of trips to bottle redemption centers by every homeowner. What a waste of time but I am NOT giving the state money by throwing my five cent deposit out with the curbside pick-up.

    6. Much more work on the average citizen and business to pay the deposit up front, store the materials, and return bottles to redemption centers.

    7. With curbside, DPW recycling, there is less risk of citizens at state borders, going to NH or other non-deposit states to purchase their products. Businesses located in border Towns will dramatically lose revenue if this bill is expanded.

    I don’t see any good reason to increase the bottle deposit bill except to raise taxes on citizens who may be too lazy to return the bottles OR would be putting them in the town DPW pickup anyway because it is so much easier. The State of Massachusetts should NOT be in the business of taking money from its citizens in this manner. Promote active recycling, support cities and towns with their recycling program and dispense with the bottle bill. It makes no sense.

  16. Rich P says:

    To Summarize my humble opinion.

    YES on the gas tax… Make them show up and vote if they want to bring us to the cleaners..
    NO on the bottle bill. Money will be wasted in the state Coffers.
    YES on the casino. We don’t need more crime and degraded cities.
    Not sure on the earned sick time but leaning NO.

  17. bumpkin says:

    All good arguments – but trumped by my experience on the ground. Virtually all the litter is non-deposit containers. Everything you say makes sense but in practice deposits seem to help prevent litter.

  18. bumpkin says:

    I’m soft on the gas tax and leaning to Yes. Make them vote and/or work harder to reduce other costs if they don’t have the guts to vote for a tax increase.

  19. Rich P says:

    You have more experience on the litter end than I do so I must concede that point,but I hate, hate collecting all these cans separately and making a separate trip to get my five cents back… (Actually, I take them to Muckeys who has a huge bin where you can just place them and they return them and donate to either Middleboro High School or the food pantry which is nice. I must say that in my neighborhood, when I walk the dog, I find beer cans along the side of the road all the time… that may be to avoid OUI by idiots but litter is litter. I still say the money the state will steal from me outweighs the bad and I think over time, the litter will go down as people get more educated on recycling but the deposit will NEVER go down, stop and will probably keep rising once it is in place by our money grabbing politicians..

  20. Rich P says:

    Well you have more experience in the “boots on the ground litter clean-up” so I concede that. However, recycling is getting more and more popular and easier so in time, more people will recycle BUT politicians will NEVER, EVER get rid of this tax and it will only go up which I don’t want to see. The part that really bothers me is they dont look at it as reducing litter, they look at it as revenue for the state. They are making it harder to recycle this way which will make them more money. Also, these one can at a time machines drive me crazy… The roll and spin and then decide this bottle is not worthy…I hate the whole thing but as I said earlier, I refuse to let the state get my five cents.

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