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January 28, 2013

Push in works to scrap state's 'bottle bill'

BOSTON — About half a year after a dramatic debate over whether to expand the state’s bottle deposit law, a group backed by the food and beverage industry is seeking to scrap the whole deposit law in favor of a new recycling program.

Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury, has filed legislation that would phase out the 5-cent deposit on cans and bottles, replacing it with a 1-cent fee paid by distributors and bottlers, which would be used to fund recycling efforts.

“Ninety percent of the cities and towns have available to them either curbside or drop-off programs for their recyclables. Why are we segregating recyclables, some of the recyclables and bringing them back to a food store? One, it’s not the environment we should be bringing back our trash. And two, it’s at a significant increased cost. It’s about three to four times more expensive,” Chris Flynn, president of the Massachusetts Food Association, told the News Service.

The effort to repeal the bottle deposit law is sure to rankle its supporters, who have been pushing to expand the law and have been stymied by legislative leadership that is wary of the change.

“We should be doing a hundred things to improve recycling. Of course I’m for a lot of measures, but the bottle bill is a 29-year-old law that has proven to be the single most effective recycling law there is, and we’re just trying to update it. It’s not the only thing, but it’s at the top of the heap,” Janet Domenitz, the executive director of MASSPIRG, told the State House News Service last year.

Opponents of the bottle bill have disputed that, calling the law outdated, and favoring methods such as pay-as-you-throw trash collection systems designed to incentivize people to minimize their trash by recycling as much of it as possible.

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