The Massachusetts Beverage Association acts as a liaison between industry and state government and engages with various elected and appointed officials to promote awareness and an understanding of what the members do and they impact they have on the Commonwealth. There are always numerous issues being discussed that would have an impact on MBA members as employers such as energy costs, human resources matters like workplace discrimination, paid leave and equal pay as well as unemployment insurance, workers compensation, health care and a myriad of business costs. The MBA provides an opportunity for competitors to collaborate and develop a unified and consistent voice for industry.
While the MBA engages on these issues and others, recycling policy has been a priority since the inception of the association. Over the years the MBA has advocated aggressively for an alternative to the state’s bottle deposit law and argued that this costly, outdated and severely inefficient system is a burden that does not provide a commensurate benefit to the environment. Only 10 states have forced deposit laws and a bottle bill hasn’t been enacted in over 20 years. It really is time to upgrade and modernize our systems, using better technology and the growing municipal infrastructure in a comprehensive manner to divert as much as possible from landfills and incinerators.
The overwhelming defeat of Question 2 in 2014 demonstrated that the people of Massachusetts want to start taking things in a new direction (73.5% N, 26.5% Y). 307 of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns rejected Question 2 and 192 of those communities rejected it by greater than 75%!
This experience left us with two major conclusions: (1) the overwhelming majority of residents in Massachusetts want to recycle, and (2) consumers will recycle more if it is made convenient for them – this extends from the home to the office to the playground. We know that 90% of municipalities now provide comprehensive recycling programs for their residents and that the redemption rate for deposit containers continue to fall. It hit a new all-time low in 2016 with only 56% being redeemed after bottoming out at 59% in 2015. View the trend line.
The MBA believes it's time for bold action on recycling and solid waste policy. Massachusetts has been stuck at a 36%-38% recycling rate for too long and the Commonwealth’s environment is calling out for a comprehensive makeover. There are several steps that can be incorporated into a meaningful package that will set us on a path for greater success in how we handle our solid waste. It is time for a balanced approach that sets new standards for commercial, municipal, and state efforts, along with some resources to back it up.
A comprehensive bill should include, at least, the following components to achieve the desired results:
Require/encourage cities and towns to meet performance standards on solid waste reduction in line with the Massachusetts Solid Waste Master
Require commercial buildings to offer access to recycling
Require multi-family dwellings to provide access to recycling
Require state government capital facilities, parks, etc to provide access to recycling
Repeal the bottle deposit law and replace with a temporary 1-cent fee on beverage containers to assist cities and towns improve infrastructure
Promote education and awareness through a multi-faceted and sustained campaign
Delaware repealed their bottle deposit law and implemented a universal recycling law in 2010. Since then they have methodically implemented their law and have realized dramatic results. At the end of 2014 they sunset their fee on containers, satisfied that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to keep driving the rate toward 50%! Read the latest update on DE's Universal Recycling Act
Vermont implemented Act 148 in 2012 to require many of the same provisions but did not include a funding mechanism and will continue its discussion.
There are only 10 states with bottle deposit laws.