Environmentalists Urge Lawmakers to Expand and Modernize the Massachusetts Bottle Bill

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Kirstie Pecci, Just Zero – kpecci@just-zero.org I (508) – 347 – 5507 

JUNE 28, 2023 – The Massachusetts’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy took testimony on a bill (H.3676) that would expand and modernize the state’s Bottle Bill program. At the hearing, environmental groups called on the committee to support the bill citing its environmental and economic benefits.  

If signed into law, H.3676 would increase the bottle deposit from its current five cents to ten cents and would also add more types of beverage containers to the program, putting a deposit on water bottles, juice, hard seltzer, iced tea, coffee, sports drinks, and more. The bill would also increase access to points of redemption making it easier and more convenient for consumers to return their empties. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Massachusetts,” said Kirstie Pecci, Executive Director at Just Zero. “Expanding and modernizing the Bottle Bill will make Massachusetts’ most successful recycling program even stronger. The bill will increase recycling, reduce litter, and help create new green jobs. This is long overdue, Just Zero urges the legislature to support this commonsense and important proposal.”  

Through the Bottle Bill, consumers pay an extra nickel for every bottle or can of beer or soda they purchase. They get that money back when they return the empty container for recycling. This program creates a steady stream of clean, recyclable materials that can be used to produce new bottles and cans.  

“Expanding and modernizing our beverage container deposit return system also moves us in the right direction towards being able to replace single-use beverage containers with refillable and reusable ones,” says Mara Shulman, Senior Attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. “This will go a long way towards helping Massachusetts meet its emissions reduction targets to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. Even more than recycling, refilling beverage containers will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” 

In 1981, Massachusetts became the seventh state to adopt a Bottle Bill. Since then, the program has reduced litter and increased recycling rates. However, the program hasn’t been meaningfully updated or modernized in the four decades since the law was first enacted. As a result, Massachusetts’ return rate has declined over the past dozen years from a high of 71% in 2010 to a low of 43% in 2020. 

In the Northeast alone, more than 400 beverage containers per person are buried, burned, or littered each year. While the region is home to five of the nation’s ten states with bottle bills, the laws are out of date and industry has resisted reform. Modernized bottle bills that incentivize consumers and make it easy to return beverage containers are the way forward. 

For more information, please visit www.just-zero.org or reach out to Just Zero team members for further comment. 


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