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Chan. 22 News

Environmentalists, businesses clash over bottle bill

Competing bills aim to increase recycling
Christine Lee

BOSTON (WWLP) - 95 state lawmakers have signed onto an expanded bottle bill that proposes to extend the state’s 5-cent refundable deposit on soda cans to water bottles, sports drinks, and juice containers. (video link Environmentalists, businesses clash over bottle bill)

“We know that if we put the nickel deposit on those containers it will be a very effective tool at recycling them,” said MassPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz.

Environmentalists say 20 percent of water, sports and juice bottle get recycled and a nickel deposit fee could boost that number up to 80 percent. But businessed say it requires retailers to store returned bottles and it increases grocery costs by more than $100 million dollars a year for customers.

“It’s a burden on a lot of small businesses, it’s a burden on the consumer in fact the Speaker of the House considers it a tax on consumers,” said Bill Vernon, the Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Business groups have put forward their own legislation that phases out the current bottle bill and replaces it with a penny tax on all drink containers. The money will go toward promoting more curbside recycling.

“It makes more sense to put everything out on the curb and get the benefit of a much more efficient and effective recycling program,” said Massachusetts Food Association President Chris Flynn.

Peru state Representative Paul Mark pointed out that curbside recycling is not an option in some western Massachusetts cities and towns.

“In a town like Peru where I live and represent, there’s not such thing as curbside recycling, there’s not such thing as trash pickup. We have to go to the landfill and personally bring our trash, so it won’t work in every community,” said Rep. Mark

Polls suggest that 77 percent of the public supports the bottle bill.  If it’s not approved by the state Legislature, proponents of the bill will collect signatures to ensure voters have a chance to make it law on the 2014 statewide ballot.

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