2014 Information For Voters

QUESTION 2: Law Proposed by Initiative Petition

Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 6, 2014?

SUMMARY

This proposed law would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law, also known as the Bottle Bill, to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption, except beverages primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA approved medicines. The proposed law would not cover containers made of paper-based biodegradable material and aseptic multi-material packages such as juice boxes or pouches.

The proposed law would require the state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to adjust the container deposit amount every five years to reflect (to the nearest whole cent) changes in the consumer price index, but the value could not be set below five cents.

The proposed law would increase the minimum handling fee that beverage distributors must pay dealers for each properly returned empty beverage container, which was 2¼ cents as of September 2013, to 3½ cents. It would also increase the minimum handling fee that bottlers must pay distributors and dealers for each properly returned empty reusable beverage container, which was 1 cent as of September 2013, to 3½ cents. The Secretary of EEA would review the fee amounts every five years and make appropriate adjustments to reflect changes in the consumer price index as well as changes in the costs incurred by redemption centers. The proposed law defines a redemption center as any business whose primary purpose is the redemption of beverage containers and that is not ancillary to any other business. 

The proposed law would direct the Secretary of EEA to issue regulations allowing small dealers to seek exemptions from accepting empty deposit containers. The proposed law would define small dealer as any person or business, including the operator of a vending machine, who sells beverages in beverage containers to consumers, with a contiguous retail space of 3,000 square feet or less, excluding office and stock room space; and fewer than four locations under the same ownership in the Commonwealth. The proposed law would require that the regulations consider at least the health, safety, and convenience of the public, including the distribution of dealers and redemption centers by population or by distance or both.

The proposed law would set up a state Clean Environment Fund to receive certain unclaimed container deposits. The Fund would be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, to support programs such as the proper management of solid waste, water resource protection, parkland, urban forestry, air quality and climate protection.

The proposed law would allow a dealer, distributor, redemption center or bottler to refuse to accept any beverage container that is not marked as being refundable in Massachusetts.

The proposed law would take effect on April 22, 2015.

WHAT YOUR VOTE WILL DO

A YES VOTE would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drinks with certain exceptions, increase the associated handling fees, and make other changes to the law.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws regarding beverage container deposits.

See full text of Question 2

ARGUMENTS

As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

IN FAVOR: A YES vote will improve the “Bottle Bill,” where consumers put down a refundable nickel deposit on a beer or soda. People get the nickel back when they return the container. A YES vote will extend this program to cover other beverages such as bottled water.

The Bottle Bill works: 80% of beer and soda containers get recycled. Only 23% of non-deposit containers do. So every year a billion bottles get tossed away, often on playgrounds, roads and beaches. Communities have to pay to clean them up.

A YES vote equals more recycling, less trash and litter, and big savings for towns’ waste management costs. That’s why this idea has been endorsed by 209 of our cities and towns, as well as Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, 350 business leaders, and independent groups like the League of Women Voters, MASSPIRG, Sierra Club and hundreds more.

Authored by:
Coalition for an Updated Bottle Bill
294 Washington Street, Suite 5001
Boston, MA 02108
617-747-4322
www.massbottlebill.org

AGAINST: Massachusetts should be a recycling leader, but Question 2 will keep us in the past. Ninety percent of households now have access to curbside and community recycling programs. Let’s focus on what works instead of expanding an outdated, ineffective, and inconvenient system.

Everyone wants to increase recycling rates—but expanded forced deposits are the wrong approach.

Question 2 would:

• cost nearly $60 million a year, more than three times the price of curbside programs (while increasing recycling rates by less than 1 percent);

• waste taxpayer dollars on expanding an uneconomical, 30-year-old system;

• raise your nickel deposit and additional fees every five years—without your vote.

Today, more than $30 million of your unclaimed nickels go into the state’s general fund and into the hands of politicians – not to environmental programs. Let’s stop throwing money at an inefficient system and invest in modern recycling technology.

Vote NO on Question 2.

Authored by:
Robert L. Moylan
Comprehensive Recycling Works
31 Milk Street, Suite 518
Boston, MA 02109
617-886-5186
www.NoOnQuestion2.com