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Ballot Question 2: Expanding The Bottle Deposit Law

BOSTON (CBS) – Ballot Question 2 raises the question of whether expanding the state's beverage container law would result in less litter and more people recycling.

Can a five-cent deposit make that much of a difference?

According to the Department of Environmental Management's latest figures from 2010, consumers redeem 70.8 percent of eligible bottles, compared to just 23-percent of bottles that would be covered under the ballot question.

That equates to about 30,000 tons a year.

Jack Clarke of the Audubon Society told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 there was a time when the state had a deposit on some bottles but it went away until the state created the current law in 1983. He noted that it resulted in a cleaner environment and he thinks the expansion of the law will make Massachusetts even cleaner.

"When you just see them strewn all over the city, a lot of the homeless and other people will pick them up and collect them, free of will, just to earn extra cash off of them," said one resident in support of the idea.

Opponents say expanding the law would do little to clean up the environment and would cost consumers an extra $60 million a year for that nickel deposit; that number goes down if people redeem the bottles.

"In 1982, curbside recycling simply did not exist. Now we have modern technology where people can recycle right at their door step, they don't have to sort it. It's far more convenient," said Nicole Gaimbusso, a spokesperson for 'No On Question 2.'

However, DEP said curbside recycling only accounts for nine percent of bottles eligible to be redeemed.

Distributors and bottlers are also against expanding the bottle law, because it would charge them more in handling fees, going up to 3.5 cents per bottle, which leads to another argument against Question 2.

Expanding the bottle law could lead to higher prices as stores pass the extra cost on to customers. But Clarke claims this is not true, having looked at states that have bottle bills in place, he says prices do not go up.

Nine other states have bottle laws.  Among them, Maine is comparable to Massachusetts.

They take all bottles, except for dairy and unprocessed cider. A 15-cent deposit is charged for alcoholic beverages and five cents for all others. Ninety-percent of these bottles are redeemed by consumers.

To read more about Question 2, visit the state elections website.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mark Katic reports



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