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A newly formed statewide coalition including grocers, Real Recycling for Massachusetts, opposed what it said is a costly and inefficient proposal to expand the current five-cent fee on soda and beer containers to include every bottle and can of 100 percent juice, juice drinks, iced tea, bottled water, flavored water, sports drinks and other beverages.
Expanding the bill would cost retailers, grocers and beverage companies millions of dollars annually in operating costs, according to the coalition, which it said would cause the cost of beverage containers to go up, ultimately hurting low- and middle-income families, as well as people living on fixed incomes.
“Citizens and businesses throughout the commonwealth can't afford to give money away to an ineffective program,” noted Chris Flynn, president of the Boston-based Massachusetts Food Association and a member of Real Recycling for Massachusetts. “Statewide, people oppose an expanded bottle bill that would raise the cost of groceries for Massachusetts families, burden businesses, jeopardize jobs and compete with less expensive recycling programs that actually work.”
The coalition also believes that expanded bottle bill would put good-paying jobs, many of them union positions, at risk, adversely affecting Massachusetts’ 3,700 beverage industry jobs in Massachusetts.
Among other objections the group has to the expanded bottle bill proposal is that it would have little environmental impact. Real Recycling for Massachusetts advocates improving the municipal recycling programs that already exist by extending them to such places as parks, arenas, stadiums, offices and theaters; building on existing infrastructure such as curbside pickup; and making it more convenient for residents to recycle outside of their homes. Meanwhile, the existing bottle bill is outdated and expensive, according to the coalition.
“Communities throughout the state have adopted recycling programs that are effective and convenient, target a far greater portion of the waste stream and cost less,” noted Flynn. “We should invest in improving these more effective and efficient programs, not a costly bottle bill that will hurt families and jobs in our communities and have virtually no impact on increasing recycling.”
Members of Real Recycling for Massachusetts include the Massachusetts Food Association, the Massachusetts Beverage Association, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Poland Spring Bottling Co., Kappy's Liquors, Tedeschi Food Shops Inc., the Massachusetts Package Stores Association, the New England Convenience Store Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the International Bottled Water Association and several unions.