BOSTON- On Wednesday, January 29th, Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) and Representative John J. Binienda (D-Worcester) hosted a legislative informational briefing at the Massachusetts State House on two bills sponsored by the legislators, S. 379/H. 2513, An Act Relative to Improving Recycling in the Commonwealth. The bills aim to improve and expand recycling in the Commonwealth through the establishment of the Municipal Recycling Enhancement Fund, which would distribute grants to local communities to establish innovative recycling programs such as single-stream recycling.

“When the “Bottle Bill” was established over 30 years ago, it was successful in bringing recycling awareness to the Commonwealth. However, in the years since, the “Bottle Bill” has reached its limits for recycling and simply expanding the bill will not do the job. It is time for Massachusetts to have a serious discussion regarding the future of recycling in the state,” stated Senator Moore. “S. 379/H. 2513 not only will modernize recycling but will give consumers and local communities options without an increase in burden. Similar programs have had much success in states throughout the nation. These bills will not undo the positives brought on by the “Bottle Bill,” but will in fact expand upon them. It is time to move Massachusetts forward on recycling.”

“Massachusetts has an opportunity to take the lead in terms of our recycling infrastructure with this proposal,” said Representative Binienda.  “Our current system has run its course and raising costs on beverage companies and consumers, which expansion of the ‘Bottle Bill’ will invariably do, is not going to solve the problem.  These bills strike the right balance between what’s good for the environment, businesses, and consumers.”

“The informational briefing on S. 379/H. 2513 “An Act to Improve Recycling in the Commonwealth” hosted by Senator Michael Moore and Representative John Binienda was a great forum to illustrate why alternative approaches to recycling and litter control makes sense”, said Chris Flynn, President of the Massachusetts Food Association, which represents the supermarket and grocery industry in the state.  “The modern recycling infrastructure has made the thirty year old bottle law a less effective and efficient approach to comprehensive strategies.  These bills are a much more pragmatic and progressive approach.”

Both Senator Moore and Representative Binienda view S. 379/H. 2513 as a positive alternative to efforts to expand the state’s beverage bottle deposit law, established in 1983, to improve recycling efforts in Massachusetts. The bills would create the Municipal Recycling Enhancement Fund and that would be overseen by an 11-member board appointed by the governor. The Fund would be used to support recycling collection programs, such as the implementation of “Pay as you Throw” programs, adoption of single-stream collection and recycling promotion efforts for local communities. The Fund would also be used to assist litter prevention and control programs, including enforcement of the current litter laws and expanding public space recycling options.

In the first year, the Fund would receive 50% of revenue provided from unclaimed beverage container deposits (the Clean Environment Fund).  Beginning July 1, 2014 and thereafter, the Fund would be supported by a 1¢ recycling fee on beverage containers sold for consumption in the Commonwealth.  Distributors and wholesalers of beverages will be responsible for registering with the Department of Revenue and paying the fee.  Concurrent with the onset of the recycling fee, the existing beverage container deposit law will end and containers currently subject to deposits will be managed through the existing and enhanced recycling systems in the Commonwealth.

Research has shown that expanding the “Bottle Bill” will only increase recycling in Massachusetts by 1/8th of 1%, about three pounds per person per year and will cost consumers $58 million per year just to cover operating costs.  In 2010, the State of Delaware replaced their bottle bill with a universal recycling law and saw an increase in recycling of 3% after the first year of implementation and another 3% the following year.

Also speaking at the briefing presentation were Kevin Dietly of Northbridge Environmental Consulting, Liza Casella of Casella Resource Solutions and Steve Changaris of National Waste & Recycling Association.