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Curious Why Bottle Deposits Still Exists

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV
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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Declare Your Curiosity
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BOSTON (CBS) — Some people just don’t like it; having to haul cans and bottles back to the store to collect deposits.

Scott from Reading Declared his Curiosity asking: “Shouldn’t the deposits be abandoned since most towns offer recycling programs?”

Since the birth of the Massachusetts Bottle Bill almost 30 years ago, billions of containers have been returned. However, some people argue that times have changed.

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports.

“When the bottle law originally went into place in the early 80’s there was no curbside recycling or drop off center to bring your recyclables,” says Chris Flynn, head of the Massachusetts Food Association, an industry group that represents food stores. He says we don’t need deposits anymore.

“What we’re essentially doing is bringing part of our trash back to a supermarket. That’s a food store environment. It’s not the place to bring it,” says Flynn.

Since curbside recycling is growing, it certainly would be a lot easier to dump the deposits and dump your bottles and cans into your recycling bin. But without the incentive of getting money back, the question is, would people recycle or just toss those cans and bottles into the trash?

MASSPIRG‘s Janet Domenitz, one of the architects of the original bottle bill, says without deposits, people won’t recycle in the quantities they do now by returning bottles and cans to a store or redemption center.

“Over 70 percent of containers that have a deposit are recycled,” says Domenitz. “We feel we need both curbside and the bottle bill to compliment each other to reach maximum recycling,” she adds.

Meanwhile on Beacon Hill, it’s a story of dueling bills. There are some that would expand the bottle bill to include water, juice and energy drink containers, and at least one that would phase out the bottle bill. So far neither idea has moved forward.

What happens to the deposits that aren’t claimed? The state keeps all those nickels to the tune of about $30 million per year.

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