Senate passes Updated Bottle Bill

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In a move long awaited by 77% of the public in Massachusetts, the state Senate overwhelmingly voted for an amendment to the state budget on Wednesday evening which would update the state’s nickel deposit system, also known as the Bottle Bill, to include water, sports drinks, and flavored teas.

“With all the complex legislation we have to consider in such tough fiscal times, it’s great to have a bill that’s such a winner,” said Sen. Cynthia Creem of Newton, a chief sponsor of the measure.

If the House also passes the amendment, and it’s signed into law, Massachusetts would catch up with Maine, Connecticut, and New York, all of which added more containers to their deposit laws over the past several years. Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Tom Menino, and the Mass. Municipal Association are among the longtime supporters of this measure.

“Right now, taxpayers are footing the bill to deal with these non-carbonated beverage containers, which I see all over our streets and in our parks,” said Sen. Robert Hedlund of Weymouth, another chief sponsor. “Including these containers in our state’s bottle bill makes good fiscal and environmental sense.”

“It’s high time to update the Bottle Bill,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “We’ve been pushing for this update for a long time, but the bottlers and big beverage industry lobbyists have been pushing back. We are now optimistic that with the support of the Senate, and Governor Patrick, the House will move quickly to adopt this amendment.”

Over 90 organizations, including the Environmental League of MA, Mass Audubon, the Garden Club Federation of MA, the League of Women Voters/MA, South Shore Recycling Cooperative, and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy as well as 208 cities in towns support updating the bottle for its potential to increase recycling, reduce litter, and save cities and towns money in litter pickup and trash disposal costs. Over the past several years, tens of thousands of postcards, emails, phonecalls and letters have been sent to legislators from citizens around the state, urging passage.

“Public support for an update to the bottle bill is huge, and has been building every year,” said Ryan Black, director of the Sierra Club/MA. “People are truly tired of the waste and the litter.”