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BOSTON -- What's the difference between a bottle of spring water and a bottle of sparkling water? Not much.
They quench your thirst, cost roughly the same, and are sold in similar containers. But one - the sparkling water - carries a nickel deposit. And the other -- the still water -- doesn't. Does that make sense to you?
Twenty-seven years after the passage of the Massachusetts bottle bill, the Legislature is considering expanding its provisions to cover noncarbonated bottles and cans of water, iced tea, juices and energy drinks. We think it's a good idea and about time.
The beverage industry disagrees, citing the cost and mess of dealing with returned bottles and cans. But that's not an argument against the bottle bill.It's an argument for making the law work better, perhaps by raising fees for redemption centers, or implementing a smoother system for handling returnables.
That's the situation in Maine, where reportedly 93 percent of the 1 billion containers sold every year are redeemed, the result of an innovative plan meeting with success.
Massachusetts, with a current redemption rate falling to 66 percent, which again is limited to selected containers, would be wise to follow its neighbor's lead, treating all bottles and cans alike, and increase the chances of getting them out of landfills and into the recycling stream.
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