Updating the Bottle Bill

With only 23% of non-deposit containers recycled versus 80% of deposit containers, the Bottle Bill is the most effective recycling program in Massachusetts.

Stop Litter, Increase Recycling

For over a decade, MASSPIRG and a large and diverse coalition have been calling for an update of the Bottle Bill. After the more than $9 million spent by bottlers and the waste industry defeated this proposal on the November 2014 ballot, we still believe it sets the standard for effective recycling programs and are organizing support for a new bill (H.2875/S.1752), sponsored by Representative Gloria Fox (Boston) and Senator Cynthia Creem (Newton), that aims to increase the recylcing rates of all beverage containers to the high level of deposit containers.

 WHAT THE BILL DOES

  • Provides for a six-year waiting period to see if the alternative recycling methods proposed by the bottling industry have succeeded. As of 2013, 80% of containers with a deposit were recycled, but only 23% of containers without a deposit (like water bottles and sports drinks) were recycled.
  • If, after six years, that 23%, as tracked by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) doesn’t get within five percentage points of 80%, container deposits will be enacted for water bottles and sports drinks.

 WHY THE BILL IS IMPORTANT

If we passed a bottle bill update, it would:

  • Save cities and towns $7 million a year in litter pick-up and trash disposal, resulting in cleaner streets and parks.
  • Save energy and oil from being wasted. It takes 50 million barrels of oil to produce PET water bottles for the US alone.
  • Create jobs! A 2012 report by MASSPIRG and the Sierra Club estimated that 1,500 jobs would be created by updating the bottle bill.

 BOTTLE BILL FACTS

  • In Massachusetts, beverage containers compose 15.2% of solid waste by volume.
  • Container deposit laws have been shown to decrease beverage container litter by over 80% and decrease total litter by over 40%.

Issue Updates

Result | Solid Waste

Working To Update The Bottle Bill

MASSPIRG helped to win the original Bottle Bill in 1982, and we’ve helped build support to update the landmark recycling law to include millions of new containers, including bottled water.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | MASSPIRG

BOSTON -- In a survey of 15 Massachusetts cities, researchers at MASSPIRG found that, despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s July 13 executive order that allowed for the reinstatement of plastic bag bans and the use of reusable bags again, local delays and confusion remain in some jurisdictions. 

News Release | MASSPIRG

BOSTON -- In a move celebrated by several major environmental, grassroots and public interest organizations, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced Thursday that they would re-open the public hearing process on the draft 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, the Commonwealth’s blueprint for dealing with waste. After the initial hearings ended in December without sufficient public outreach, the groups started pushing for the public hearings to be reopened; through direct advocacy, letters, emails and grassroots organizing. 

News Release | MASSPIRG

The Cambridge City Council, at the behest of Councillors Patty Nolan and Quinton Zondervan, unanimously passed a resolution calling on "..the Governor to end the ban on reusable bags and allow municipalities to enforce their own bag restrictions." 

News Release | MASSPIRG

BOSTON -- Gov.Charlie Baker announced Friday that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the State Attorney General’s Office will resume enforcement of beverage container redemption requirements in June. MASSPIRG praises decision.

News Release | MASSPIRG

Out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office announced  that they are suspending enforcement of the requirements for retailers to accept beverage containers that have a deposit. This decision is effective immediately and until further notice or until the current state of emergency is terminated.

Solid Waste

Local plastic bag ban delays; renewed call to reduce waste

This summer, Gov. Charlie Baker took a major step to get the Bay State back on the path to zero waste by reinstating single-use plastic bag bans in 139 cities and towns. But local delays and confusion remain in several jurisdictions, prompting MASSPIRG and our partners to renew our call for the commonwealth to get back to reducing harmful and unnecessary plastic waste.

 

Solid Waste

Massachusetts resumes bans on single-use plastic bags

Gov. Charlie Baker has rescinded an emergency order from March that paused the use of reusable bags in the commonwealth. The decision will allow bans on single-use plastic bags to resume in 139 cities and towns across Massachusetts. 

 

Solid Waste

Cambridge resolution calls for end to moratorium on reusable bags

To reduce waste in its community, the Cambridge City Council has passed a resolution calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to lift a statewide moratorium on reusable grocery bags. The use of reusable bags was paused in March due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

 

Solid Waste

MASSPIRG applauds decision to resume bottle bill enforcement

Gov. Charlie Baker took a crucial step toward reviving waste reduction efforts in the commonwealth by restoring enforcement of the Massachusetts bottle bill. This and other plastic waste reduction policies were paused due to safety fears amid the coronavirus pandemic — fears that, a New York Times reporter found, the plastics industry inflamed.

 
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