Massachusetts consumers already pay deposit on cans and bottles of soda and beer. The expanded bottle bill would mandate a deposit on an even wider range of products like juice, fruit drinks, iced tea, bottled water, sports drinks, and flavored waters.
In addition to paying a deposit on more items, consumers would also bear the brunt of increased costs for retailers and beverage distributors. Between $58 million in higher operating costs and $60 million in deposits, the expanded bottle bill would cost consumers almost $120 million per year at the grocery store.
Some do, but because of the hassle and time involved, many give away their empties or simply recycle them in their curbside bins. Because the State keeps any unclaimed deposits, some tout expansion as a back-door way to generate more revenue for State coffers. The expanded bottle bill is estimated to bring in $20 million a year in new revenue. That’s $20 million out of our pockets for bottles that we may very well be recycling anyway.
The current bottle bill is expensive for retailers to operate. Grocers have to dedicate precious space in their stores for reverse vending machines to handle empties in addition to storage space and labor to accommodate the returns. The expanded bottle bill would add many types of containers that don’t fit in current machines, so consumers would have to wait in line to redeem them at a customer service counter. For the rest of the containers, retailers would have to spend more on equipment and staff or increase capacity in their reverse vending machines.
Yes, the expanded bottle bill would impact the 3,700 people who work for the beverage industry. Unions including Local 513 RWDSU/UFCW — representing drivers and plant workers — and Local 1271 IAM/AW — representing beverage container machinists — oppose the expanded bottle bill. A more limited expansion of New York’s bottle bill in 2009 led to plant closures in the industry and resulting job losses and dislocations. It’s a scheme that could have far reaching effects on our economy.
Negligible. The expanded bottle bill is only expected to increase recycling by 1/8th of one percent or 0.12%. That works out to about three pounds of additional recycled material per person per year.
Yes, 83% of people who recycle in Massachusetts take advantage of curbside pickup. In addition, there are drop-off centers that accept all recyclables (not just beverage containers). These programs handle many materials and are much more efficient than a bottle bill. There are ways to improve those recycling programs and extend programs to more places (parks and offices, for example) – that’s where we should be directing our energies, not counting bottles and cans.
When it comes to cost, curbside recycling is the big winner. The existing bottle bill costs three to four times more to recycle a ton of material than in a curbside program. When it comes to expansion, the bottle bill would cost about 10 times more per ton than curbside. And if you factor in driving to redeem containers, the cost and carbon footprint of the bottle bill go up even more.
Why is curbside recycling a better choice for Massachusetts?