Modernizing the Bottle Bill

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Governor Patrick    FY 2013 Budget Recommendation:
    Issues in Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor


The Massachusetts Bottle Bill, enacted in 1982, encourages consumers to return their empty soda and beer containers through a redeemable 5-cent deposit.  The law reduces litter and encourages recycling of aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles.  Governor Patrick’s FY 2013 budget proposes to expand the types of containers subject to the 5-cent deposit to include those containing water, flavored waters, coffee based drinks, juices and sports drinks less than one gallon in size.  This initiative will help remove empty beverage containers from parks, streets and waterways; generate additional plastic for the recycling market; support small recycling businesses in the Commonwealth; reduce municipal collection costs; and provide additional revenues for recycling programs.

Why Modernize the Bottle Bill?

Discarded bottles and cans that are not currently covered by the Bottle Bill are a major source of litter for communities.  The beverages covered by the original 1982 Bottle Bill included carbonated soft drinks, mineral water, beer and other malt beverages. Since that time, the beverage market has changed significantly.  Bottled water, juices, iced tea and sports drinks are consumed at levels comparable to soda. Since 2000, non-carbonated beverages have experienced triple-digit growth (see chart below).  This trend is expected to continue.  However, these non-carbonated beverages are not covered by the Bottle Bill, and often end up in landfills or in our public spaces. A study of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) showed that non-carbonated beverages are four times more likely than carbonated beverages to be discarded in our parks.

Massachusetts Annual Beverage Consumption Estimates - Chart shows estimates of beverages consumed in the years 2000, 2005 and 2010. Total annual beverages consumed grew by 38% to 3.9 billion in 2010. Non-carbonated beverage consumption grew by over 100% from 790 million in 2000 to 1.6 billion in 2010.

Source: MassDEP (data sources – Container Recycling Institute, Beverage Marketing Corp., Department of Revenue)

More than one billion non-carbonated beverage containers end up as litter, buried in landfills or burned in incinerators each year.  Updating the Bottle Bill could prevent 750 million of those containers from entering the solid waste stream as a result of increasing incentives to recycle.

Revising the Bottle Bill will also help keep parks, beaches and highways clean.  Litter collection studies have consistently shown that water and non-carbonated beverage containers are up to four times as likely to become litter as beverage containers currently covered by the Bottle Bill.

The Bottle Bill can be brought up to date through a simple revision of the definition of “beverages”.  This revision will reduce confusion among consumers about which beverages are eligible for redemption. Consumers will be required to pay an additional 5-cents on water, flavored waters, iced teas, coffee based drinks, juices and sports drinks.

The expansion of the Bottle Bill will generate roughly $22.5 M in new revenue, $5.25 M of which will be dedicated to the recycling and solid waste management programs of the DEP.  The Executive Office for Energy and Environmental Affairs and DEP will use this funding for the following efforts:

Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information email: (617) 727-2040