Bottle Bill Rally and Hearing a Huge Success!

On Wednesday ELM, MassPIRG, Sierra Club, MassAudubon, numerous other environmental organizations, and hundreds of Bottle Bill supporters participated in a rally and legislative hearing on the proposed update to the Bottle Bill. Supporters of the bill so outnumbered opponents, and made such effective arguments, it is difficult to imagine how our coalition of advocates could have made a better case to update the Bottle Bill. In addition TV, radio and print media covered the events well. Here are some highlights of the successful day: 

-We essentially filled Gardner Auditorium with supporters for the legislative hearing, a room that holds several hundred people.

-Representative Alice Wolf and Senator Cynthia Creem, the bill sponsors, coordinated a group of 25 legislators to testify at the hearing. They all arrived en masse at 11:30 am and gave very effective testimony. This made visible impression on the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee members.

-MassDEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell's testimony featured a report DEP just released, among other things debunking industry's claims the updated Bottle Bill would cause higher consumer prices. (His testimony, including information on the report, is here).

-Representative Richard Bastien testified for his competing bill to repeal the Bottle Bill, and Committee Co-Chair Senator Ben Downing did not mince words when refuting Rep. Bastien's claim that the bottle bill is a 'tax'. In fact, several legislators and supporters effectively debunked the 'tax' claim.

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There were several panels that provided testimony in favor of the updated Bottle Bill. ELM testified along with other environmental organizations, as shown in the photo above. 

The next step is for the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee (TUE) to vote on the bill, which will allow the rest of the Legislature to consider the bill. YOU can help now by contacting your Representative and Senator (find their contact information here) and asking them to contact TUE Co-Chairs Senator Benjamin Downing and Representative John Keenan. Ask them to urge the TUE Chairs to schedule a vote on House Bill 890 and Senate Bill 1650 SOON. As in, before October.

We are confident the bills will pass out of committee with favorable votes as long as those votes are allowed by the chairs. Please take 5 minutes and make two phone calls - it makes a difference when legislators hear from their constituents. Help us keep up the momentum and pass a long overdue update to the Bottle Bill!

 

Additional Background: 

The Bottle Bill is the state's most successful recycling and litter prevention program, but it needs to be updated because approximately 30 percent of bottles are now slipping through a loophole in the law. Since the Bottle Bill's inception in 1983, over 35 billion containers have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy. But the law does not include non-carbonated beverages (because they were an insignificant portion of the waste stream in 1983).

An Updated Bottle Bill would expand our container deposit system to include non-carbonated drinks such as water, iced tea, juice, and sports drinks. It would decrease litter and increase recycling and help generate jobs in the state's growing recycling industry. Click here for more background.

Contact ELM's Ken Pruitt for more information.

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