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[greenyes] MA State Senator Nuciforo Leads Drive to Update the Bottle Bill
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 702
Arlington, VA  22209
Phone: 703-276-9800 Fax: 703-276-9587


(Please let us know if you would like the Word version of this release).

Jennifer Gitlitz, CRI Research Director (413) 684-4746
Andrew Schuyler, Aide to Senator Nuciforo (413) 442-6810

State Senator Nuciforo Leads Drive to Update the Bottle Bill:
Measure Would Generate $5.7 Million in New Revenues to the Commonwealth

(May 29, 2003)--State Senator Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. (D-Pittsfield) has
filed a budget amendment which would expand the Commonwealth's 20-year old
container deposit law to include approximately 700 million non-carbonated
beverage containers presently exempt from the 5¢ deposit.  Co-sponsors of
the amendment include state Senators Barrios, Shannon, Creem and Fargo.

The current deposit law, or "bottle bill," requires a nickel deposit on all
carbonated beverages sold in Massachusetts, including soda, beer, and
carbonated mineral water.  Consumers can redeem their nickels when they
return empty bottles and cans to redemption centers and retail outlets
throughout the state.  Sen. Nuciforo¹s budget amendment would extend the 5¢
deposit requirement to  non-carbonated beverages such as  iced teas, sports
drinks, fruit juices, and bottled water, and would place a 15¢ deposit on
wine and liquor bottles.

Most attractive to Massachusetts lawmakers are the amendment¹s budgetary
implications. Under the existing law, about $35 million in "unclaimed
deposits" (from the 33% of containers that are not redeemed) are currently
funneled into the state's Clean Environment Fund each year.  If passed, the
expanded bottle bill will generate an estimated $5.7 million a year in
additional unclaimed deposit revenue for the Commonwealth, for a total of
about $41 million.

"The Governor is committed to bringing our bottle bill up to date by
including additional containers," said Ellen Roy Herzfelder, Secretary for
the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.  "The money from the
unredeemed deposits is crucial to help fund recycling programs throughout
the state," she added.

Since its implementation in 1983, an estimated 27 billion containers have
been recycled through the deposit law, according to the Massachusetts
Department of Environmental Protection, generating over $225 million in
revenues for the Commonwealth.  Some of this money has been used to fund
recycling and other environmental programs, and some has been used to write
down the state's deficit.

While virtually non-existent in 1983 when the law was enacted,
non-carbonated beverages now account for about 25% of the total beverage
market in Massachusetts, according to the Container Recycling Institute
(CRI).  According to CRI's Jennifer Gitlitz, who helped craft the amendment,
"A growing proportion of these non-carbonated beverages are sold in
single-serve containers and are consumed away from home, so they are less
likely to end up in a curbside recycling bin and more likely to end up as

A random sample of trash collected by volunteers at an April 12th cleanup of
the Charles River in Boston contained 431 non-returnable beverage containers
and only 96 returnable (deposit) containers -- a ratio of 4.5 to 1.
According to Russ Cohen of Mass Riverways, who helped organize the clean-up,
similar results have been found throughout the state.  "Since there are
currently at least three deposit containers sold for every one non-deposit
container sold in Massachusetts," Cohen said, "it is over twelve times more
likely that a non-deposit container will end up littering our waterways than
will a deposit container."

Non-carbonated drinks are packaged primarily in glass and plastic bottles,
which are bulky and costly for municipalities to collect through curbside
recycling programs, and they bring in little revenue.

"Right now, taxpayers are footing the bill to deal with these non-carbonated
containers?whether through curbside collection or litter clean-up," said
Senator Nuciforo. "Including them in the Commonwealth¹s bottle bill makes
good fiscal and environmental sense."

State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) agreed. ³It doesn¹t make sense to
include seltzer water but to exempt all those water bottles without fizz.
All bottles and cans should have the same recycling incentives,² she said.

"I have worked to get the nonredeemable brands into the bottle bill for
years," said State Senator Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln). "It's an issue of
fairness, and corporate responsibility," she said.  Sen. Fargo has also
fought legislative attempts to repeal the bottle bill.

The bottle bill has had other environmental benefits as well, said CRI's
Gitlitz, including reduced trash sent to the state's landfills and
incinerators, reduced pollution, and energy savings. "In 2002 alone, the
104,000 tons of bottles and cans recycled through the bottle bill saved the
energy equivalent of 540,000 barrels of crude oil, and reduced greenhouse
gas emissions by about 80,000 tons.  The expansion would increase these
benefits by 30%."

"It¹s high time to update the bottle bill," said Iris Vincencio-Garaygay,
Environmental Advocate for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group
(MassPIRG).  "MassPIRG has mounted numerous campaigns to expand the deposit
law, but has been outgunned by the beverage and retail industry lobbies time
and again.  We are optimistic that with the Governor¹s support, we can bring
the bottle bill up to date this time."

Other proposed changes to the Massachusetts beverage container deposit law
include raising the handling fee that redemption centers and retailers
receive as compensation for their efforts to accept and process the returned
containers, and reimbursing beer and soft drink distributors 0.4¢ per
container redeemed to help defray their transportation and processing costs.

If the expansion amendment is approved by the legislature and signed by the
governor, Massachusetts would become the fourth state with an expanded
bottle bill. Maine, California, and Hawaii already require deposits on
non-carbonated beverages. Activists and policymakers in New York,
Connecticut, Oregon and Michigan are pursuing similar updates.

#  #  #

The Container Recycling Institute is a national non-profit organization that
studies and promotes policies to encourage beverage container recycling.
Kyle Paulson
Research Associate
Container Recycling Institute
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 702
Arlington, VA   22209
Voice:  703-276-9800
Fax:  703-276-9587
E-mail:  kpaulson@no.address

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