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Bottle Bill Dies in Conference Committee

Legislators decide to take the bottle bill amendment — which would expand the kinds of bottles that can be recycled for cash — out of the jobs act.

The bottle bill will not make it to the governor's desk this year.

The controversial proposal was included as an amendment to the Senate jobs bill but scrapped Monday in conference committee, according to an aide to its sponsor, Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth). The jobs bill is expected to be laid before Gov. Deval Patrick Tuesday, the last day of the legislative session.

The amendment had faced strong opposition in the House, with Speaker Robert DeLeo describing it as a tax. Hedlund disputed this view, saying that taxes can't be redeemed.

The expansion to the 31-year-old law designed to promote recycling and reduce litter would have added plastic bottles used for water, juices, iced tea and sports drinks to the list of containers subject to the 5-cent bottle deposit. Under the law, these types of containers carry a 5-cent redeemable deposit that can be collected when they are returned to the store or a redemption center. 

Opponents said the bill would have increased costs for businesses and consumers. Supporters said it would have encouraged more recycling.

The governor has said that the state could collect up to $58 million a year on unredeemed bottles, and that the program cuts the cost to city of recycling the bottles.

Supporters of expanding the bottle bill have pushed the issue for more than a decade, according to a brief history from the Massachusetts Coalition to Update the Bottle Bill.

Opponent Chris Flynn of the Massachusetts Food Association argued in a recent Globe editorial that the bill is anti-business and "Anti-Massachusetts."

What do you think of the bottle bill proposal? Leave a comment below and discuss.

John Corliss August 02, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I don't see the expanded bottle bill as a tax or anti-business. I think it would simplify thing for consumers if there was a deposit on all bottles.
Frances Wheeler August 03, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Andover resident Maria Bartlett, who chairs the Environmental Awareness committees of both the Andover Garden Club and the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts (GCFM), had this to say about the latest bottle-bill development: "Despite support from 208 cities and towns, 90+ local and state organizations (including GCFM), 360 small businesses, thousands of activists, and allies from all walks of life, the updated bottle bill was not passed as of the close of the legislative session on Tuesday. "We did get further than we've ever gotten before. The Senate passed the measure last month as an amendment to the jobs bill--that was the first time the bill had ever gotten through one of the two bodies in the Legislature. It was not in the House version of the jobs bill, and the conference committee decided to go with the House version rather than the provision in the Senate version. "Together, we helped to build up so much support, and I'm sorry that the voices of bottlers and other beverage interests were heeded over ours. In the end, it was Speaker DeLeo's opposition to the bill that carried the day. "The updated bottle bill will likely be brought up again in the next session. Stay tuned…"

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