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Another path to expanded bottle bill?

Governor slips plan into budget

Water bottles could soon be joining soda cans and bottles as part of the state’s bottle bill, if a plan Gov. Deval Patrick put into his budget is approved by the Legislature. David Dore. (click for larger version)
February 17, 2011
Since she's chair of the Charlton Recycling Committee, it's probably no surprise that Linda Davis supports expanding the bottle bill.

"When we do Earth Day cleanups, a lot of the things we find are the non-refundable bottles — Gatorade and water," she observed, noting the Board of Selectmen voted "more than a year ago" to be among more than 100 towns officially supporting it.

Unfortunately, the bill has been in limbo far longer than that, languishing in study committees in various forms for years. This year, Gov. Deval Patrick is proposing skipping that process by attaching it to his budget plan, claiming the unrefunded deposits will raise $20 million for state coffers. Of that, he plans to devote $6.5 million a year to Department of Environmental Protection solid waste and recycling programs.

The current version calls for expanding the five-cent deposit to "water, flavored waters, iced teas, coffee based drinks and sports drinks," many of which barely existed when the law was passed in 1982. By 2009, the budget website states, non-carbonated beverages made up about 40 percent of Massachusetts consumption, amounting to more than 1.6 million bottles a year.

The Bay State is not the first to try such an expansion; several have implemented such laws. The most recent was New York, which added bottled water to its program in 2009.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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