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

Blog Post | Solid Waste

Countries are taking Apple to court over Right to Repair — and sometimes, they’re winning | Nathan Proctor

Apple was fined in Australia for disabling phones which were independently repaired, in a victory for Right to Repair advocates. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

After Apple Slows Phones, Interest In Repair Spikes in Massachusetts

A new survey released by MASSPIRG shows that interest in phone repair options surged as battery issues with iPhones made headlines.

Findings show that we throw out 8,100 phones each day in Massachusetts, highlighting need for expanded access to repair.

> Keep Reading
Report | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Recharge Repair

A survey looking at the rise in battery replacement requests and self-repair interest in response to news breaking that Apple was slowing down older phones to preserve battery life. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Why is it so hard to repair our stuff? | Nathan Proctor

We generate way too much waste, and companies use their power in the marketplace to make things harder to repair. That’s the idea behind “Right to Repair” laws -- they check companies ability to limit repairs and empower us to fix our own stuff. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Boston to Consider Plastic Ban Bag | Janet Domenitz

More than 60 community organizations, advocates, membership groups, and business leaders have united to urge the Boston City Council to pass the proposed Ordinance Regarding the Reduction of Plastic Bags in Boston (Chapter 17-19). The Ordinance will significantly advance the City’s Zero Waste goals, and it will bring economic benefits to the city’s businesses, consumers, and taxpayers. Over the past two years over 50 cities and towns in Massachusetts have passed laws to reduce plastic waste. Now it is Boston’s turn.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Group Spotlights Waste Ban Violations, Calls for Enforcement

"It's time to get more 'cops' on the beat," commented Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG, which is collecting signatures on petitions asking DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell to step up enforcement of the waste bans. "Garbage is a big business in Massachusetts, and it's clear that landfills, incinerators, waste haulers and big waste generators are flaunting these regulations." Although there is significant evidence of large scale violations of these waste bans, the DEP has only issued a handful of penalties over the past few years.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Senate passes Updated Bottle Bill

 

“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.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

MASSPIRG Submits Testimony to Increase Bottle Bill Handling Fee

MASSPIRG supports Secretary Rick Sullivan’s proposal to increase the bottle bill “handling fee” by one penny, from 2.25c per container to 3.25c per container.  The handling fee is what the distributor pays the retailer for handling the empty containers, a key part of making the bottle bill work (the handling fee has nothing to do with the deposit, which consumers pay, and get redeemed when they return the container). This is a common sense and long overdue proposal.

> Keep Reading
News Release | MASSPIRG, Coalition to Update the Bottle Bill | Solid Waste

Updated Bottle Bill Builds Steam

In a sign that the Updated Bottle Bill has more support on Beacon Hill than ever before, the final tally of cosponsors in the Legislature included the highest number the bill has ever garnered, coming at at 95 (75 in the House, 25 in the Senate). Giving the measure even more momentum, on Friday, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan proposed an increase in the bottle bill handling fee.  This handling fee (which has nothing to do with the 5-cent deposit) is what the bottling industry pays redemption centers, grocery stores, and other businesses for collecting and transporting bottles and cans for recycling.

> Keep Reading

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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.

News Release | MASSPIRG

We rely on our smartphones. When they break, we need them fixed — fast. Unfortunately, there are numerous barriers to fixing our phones. Manufacturers offer a dearth of repair options or digitally lock our phones so we can’t repair them. And when we can’t fix them, and have to get rid of them and buy new ones, that has terrible consequences for our environment.

Blog Post

It’s common-sense: If something you own breaks, you should be able to fix it. But manufacturers don’t see it that way. Instead, they use a set of tactics to block independent repair because they want consumers to have to come to them to do repairs. Right to Repair made considerable progress in 2019, and just a little over a month into 2020, we’re seeing continued momentum. 

News Release | MASSPIRG

Acting shortly before a committee deadline that could have killed the bill, the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Joint Committee gave a  favorable report to the Digital Right to Repair Act. If the bill ultimately becomes law, it would combat manufacturers’ near-monopoly on repair by giving the public access to the parts, tools and information needed to fix broken digital devices.

Solid Waste

The Fix Is In

Our survey found that independent repair shops currently offer many repair options that some manufacturers don’t make available. Apple and others are making it harder for individuals and independent repair shops to fix our devices.

 

Solid Waste

New federal bill calls for U.S. to move beyond plastic

On Feb. 11, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal introduced legislation that would phase out unnecessary single-use plastics, which commonly end up clogging our landfills and polluting our environment. It also provides funding for recycling and composting infrastructure, and would shift the financial burden of managing waste and recyclables from town and city governments to the manufacturers.

 

Solid Waste

Bill to reduce plastic bag waste passes Mass. Senate

Massachusetts lawmakers are making strides toward confronting our state's plastic problem. In a late-night session on Nov. 21, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill to ban plastic grocery and retail bags — pervasive single-use waste items — across the commonwealth.

 

Solid Waste

The state of recycling

In 2019, the state of recycling is disappointing. Our report shows that in order to tackle our plastic waste crisis, we need to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics we don't need, reuse what we can, and make it possible to recycle the rest. The time to take action is now.

 
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