The disappointing defeat of an expanded bottle deposit law in November of 2014 has triggered a predictable assault on the law itself. The Legislature should resist it.
The deep-pocketed food and beverage industry heavily outspent environmental groups on a disinformation campaign that led to state voters rejecting a worthy attempt to extend the 33-year-old law to water, juice and sports drinks. The industry is now backing a bill before a legislative committee that would eliminate the 5-cent deposits on soda and beer containers and substitute a three-year, 1-cent per container fee paid by distributors and wholesalers.
By reducing the reward for returning bottles and cans, this legislation would discourage Massachusetts residents from doing so, leading to an increase in litter clogging roadsides and wooded areas. The industry claims the bottle law discourages recycling, as if this was an either-or situation. Residents can and do recycle and they can and do return bottles to claim deposits. It is cynical to play the bottle law and recycling programs against one another.
The simple fact is that the food and beverage industry doesn't want to be bothered with cans and bottles, even though the 1983 law has succeeded in giving us a cleaner state. We urge Berkshire lawmakers, who have backed extension of the bottle law, to oppose efforts to end it, which would have an adverse impact on the county's environment.