Pro Question 2: Expanding the Bottle Bill Good for Economy, Environment

Richard Elrick is a proponent of expanding the bottle bill.

Richard Elrick is a proponent of expanding the bottle bill.

Ballot Question 2 on the November 4 election ballot would expand the beverage container deposit law known as the Bottle Bill.

Richard Elrick, energy coordinator for the towns of Bourne and Barnstable, speaks in favor of the bill.

According to the Bottle Bill Resource Guide, the bill would expand the bill to all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks (excluding dairy products, infant formula, and medicines).

Advertisement

The following summary was posted on the State of Massachusetts web site:

This proposed law would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law, also known as the Bottle Bill, to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption, except beverages primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA approved medicines. The proposed law would not cover containers made of paper-based biodegradable material and aseptic multi-material packages such as juice boxes or pouches.

The proposed law would require the state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to adjust the container deposit amount every five years to reflect (to the nearest whole cent) changes in the Consumer Price Index, but the value could not be set below five cents.

The proposed law would increase the minimum handling fee that beverage distributors must pay dealers for each properly returned empty beverage container, which was 2¼ cents as of September 2013, to 3½ cents.

It would also increase the minimum handling fee that bottlers must pay distributors and dealers for each properly returned empty reusable beverage container, which was 1 cent as of September 2013, to 3½ cents.

The Secretary of EEA would review the fee amounts every five years and make appropriate adjustments to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index as well as changes in the costs incurred by redemption centers.

The proposed law defines a redemption center as any business whose primary purpose is the redemption of beverage containers and that is not ancillary to any other business.

The proposed law would direct the Secretary of EEA to issue regulations allowing small dealers to seek exemptions from accepting empty deposit containers.

The proposed law would define small dealer as any person or business, including the operator of a vending machine, who sells beverages in beverage containers to consumers, with a contiguous retail space of 3,000 square feet or less, excluding office and stock room space; and fewer than four locations under the same ownership in the Commonwealth. The proposed law would require that the regulations consider at least the health, safety, and convenience of the public, including the distribution of dealers and redemption centers by population or by distance or both.

The proposed law would set up a state Clean Environment Fund to receive certain unclaimed container deposits. The Fund would be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, to support programs such as the proper management of solid waste, water resource protection, parkland, urban forestry, air quality and climate protection.

The proposed law would allow a dealer, distributor, redemption center or bottler to refuse to accept any beverage container that is not marked as being refundable in Massachusetts.

The proposed law would take effect on April 22, 2015.