State needs more recycling, not higher bottle tax
To the editor:
Local businesses and consumers have reason to be concerned about the Patrick administration’s efforts to raise the bottle bill handling fee – a fee paid by bottlers and wholesalers to redemption centers – from 2.25 cents to 3.25 cents per container.
This fee applies to bottles and cans redeemed under the Massachusetts bottle bill, which charges an additional 5 cents for beer and soda products.
This proposed handling fee increase will cost beverage companies an additional $14 million, placing industry jobs at risk and raising prices for consumers, all while being entirely ineffective as an environmental policy. Furthermore, by moving to raise the handling fee through a regulatory procedure, the administration would send millions of dollars to bottle redemption centers, hurt jobs and impact consumers – without any real public input.
This proposed handling fee increase is not a recycling solution at all, but a new tax on the beverage industry and its consumers. While costing money, this new tax will also prop up an outdated bottle redemption system that should be abandoned to better utilize municipal recycling programs that accept all recyclable materials.
The bottle bill was enacted 30 years ago to encourage roadside clean-up. Since then, municipal recycling systems have become pervasive throughout the commonwealth and continue to grow, making the bottle-redemption system redundant and inefficient. Redeeming bottles and cans does not target the entire waste stream, and cities and towns never recover the material value of the aluminum and plastic.
Massachusetts communities can see real recycling gains for all recyclable materials through numerous measures, including: curb-side pick-up, single-stream recycling, every-week pick-up, pay-as-you-throw, mandatory recycling, and central drop-off for condominiums and businesses, among others. These measures are more convenient for residents and have proven to be successful in Massachusetts. Towns that participate in this kind of expansion enjoy the rewards of lower expenses in both reduced solid waste tonnage (more diversion to recycling) and in recycling (more income from resale value of recyclables).