By Rep. Tom Stanley
To lessen the burden of water and sewer rates for taxpayers, as well as help the environment, I filed legislation to expand the existing Bottle Bill to include five cent deposit on bottled water containers. The bill updates the current law to cover bottled water, which was not on the shelves in the early 1980s when the original Bottle Bill law passed.
While virtually non-existent in 1983 when the law was enacted, non-carbonated beverages now account for about a third of the total beverage market in MA. These drinks now constitute a tremendous amount of waste.
America’s consumption of bottled water comes with huge environmental costs considering the packaging, transporting and refrigeration of the bottles (of which nearly 80 percent are not recycled). Additionally, when people switch from drinking municipal water to bottled water, public water usage decreases and rates increase, leaving less money for investments in water and sewer infrastructure and higher costs for ratepayers.
Under my legislation, unreturned deposit receipts would be placed in a dedicated fund available to municipalities, water districts and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) to be used for water and sewer infrastructure repairs and projects throughout the state. The anticipated amount of unclaimed deposits would bring in between $30 and $50 million annually.
Rep. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) filed a similar bottle bill on behalf of MASSPIRG where deposits will potentially help the environment. Gov. Patrick included in his budget proposal language for returned bottle deposits to go toward the state’s general fund, to help combat a multimillion dollar budget gap. During this time of economic hardship for people across the state, I believe that revenue generated from an expanded bottle bill will help MA residents, specifically for water and sewer rate relief.
In addition to the implementation of an additional revenue stream to help decrease the bills of ratepayers, my proposal will offer MA residents more incentive to recycle, reduce litter and ease the burden on local trash collection programs by keeping plastic bottles out of landfills. This should improve the 11% recycling rate for Waltham residents as reported by the Boston Globe. My legislation will not only have positive environmental benefits, but as importantly will benefit the individual ratepayer by decreasing water and sewer rates during difficult fiscal times for struggling families and individuals.
Rep. Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham, is also a city councilor.