Question 2 Coalition Calls upon Industry to Promote Recycling in Massachusetts

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The coalition behind Question 2, to update the bottle bill, called upon the bottling industry and supermarket chains that poured $9 million to defeat question 2 to live up to their ads and produce specific plans showing how they will work to increase the rate of recycling of non-carbonated beverage containers to 80% statewide. 

“Our ballot question lost,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG, one of the organizations on the Yes on 2 steering committee. “Obviously we didn’t make our case well enough. The fact remains that 80% of containers with a deposit are recycled, compared to 23% of containers without a deposit. These figures are according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Our opponents said that there are easier, more modern ways to recycle. We stand ready to hear their plans to get water bottles up to an 80% recycling rate,” she said.

The goal of Question 2 was to expand the successful container deposit program.  The deposit currently applies only to carbonated beverages, but Question 2 would have included water bottles and sports drinks. The vast majority (77%) of these non-deposit bottles become trash or litter.  Through its ad campaign, the opposition group asserted that other types of recycling are as effective as bottle deposits. Several of their claims were called into question by reporters investigating No on 2 advertisements. 

A coalition including Sierra Club, MASSPIRG, Mass Audubon, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts worked with hundreds of activists and other state and local organizations to pass Question 2, with the goal of getting all beverage containers recycled at a rate of 80%.  Before the proposal became an initiative petition, it was a piece of legislation, which was endorsed by 210 cities and towns around the state.

“While our opponents spent $9million in the past two months, hundreds of Question 2 volunteers spent that time talking with voters, and heard the tremendous support for decreasing plastic bottle litter,” said Anne Borg, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. “The opponents of Question 2 need to step up with a workable plan to increase recycling of these containers and decrease the litter in our public areas.”

“As of right now, over 10 million plastic water bottles become trash or litter every day in Massachusetts,” said Phil Sego of the Massachusetts Sierra Club. “By next year, that figure is on track to become over 11 million per day. We need to get those containers recycled at the same 80% that carbonated beverages are. If the industry that pushed a ‘no’ vote has a plan for doing this, now is the time to show us. Because it’s well past time for the beverage industry to take responsibility for their products.”