Breaking down the bottle bill debate

Courtesy of MGM Online

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – In just a few days, you’ll have to make a decision on a proposed expansion of the bottle bill. The proposal would expand redeemable beverages by adding a 5-cent charge to include most non-carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages.

A charge that Demetrius Dyson of Amherst told 22News he wouldn’t mind. “I know around campus at UMass we have a lot of recycling cans and we’re strong on recycling there so I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra just to help the cause,” said Dyson.

Supporters say the change is needed to encourage recycling and reduce litter for drinks like water and juice, which were left out of the previous law.

Mary Bernstein of Amherst said, “There are a lot of bottles now that don’t fall under the previous law for recycling and redeeming and I think we should be doing that for all of our beverages.”

People who oppose the expansion of the bottle bill say the way people recycle has changed, making returns unnecessary. They say municipal programs that pick up recycables from the curb has elimating the need for a forced redemption.

Susan Waite is the Recycling Coordinator for Amherst & Northampton. She told 22News that municipal pickup programs don’t solve the entire problem.

“A lot of those bottles are not generated inside the home. They’re generated when your out and about. Unless people make an effort to carry them home, it’s hard to guarantee that they are getting recycled,” said Waite.

The bill would also allow the 5-cent deposit to increase with inflation, and the money from bottles not redeemed would be put in special state environmental fund.

Groups advocating for people to vote NO on question 2 have spent $8.2 million dollars. By comparison, environmental groups supporting a YES vote have spent $900,000.

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