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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wrong green

I'm someone who cares about the environment, recycles regularly at work and home and thinks about how to make the world a little greener.

I also think expanding the state's bottle law to include water, juice and sports drinks is ill-advised in this state with widely available curbside recycling. And the suggestion it should serve as a resource for low-income residents -- in place of a well-run job training or benefit program -- is highly insulting.

The initial law putting nickel deposits on cans and bottles was an important step in cleaning and greening Massachusetts. I have a small stockpile of bottles in the basement that collect during rare trips out to the packie.

And as regular readers know, I am on the progressive side of the aisle, concerned about the well-being of the 99 percent (of which I a a proud member).

But I can't help but being appalled that expansion of the law is being touted as a form of public assistance:
There are a lot of people who supplement their income by picking up empty containers, and if the containers that don’t have a deposit are included, they’ll pick those up as well, which will benefit them as well as reduce litter,” said Phil Sego, a spokesman for Massachusetts Sierra Club. “It’s an unintended benefit.”
Is that the best argument environmentalists can come up with to extend a law that once was the only form of recycling but now is only a piece of a broader green effort.

And with all due respect, I'm not heartened by arguments of the folks who run the redemption center, who stand to get a cut with the expanded law. The bottlers who spew the containers have never really paid a fair share of their clean-up and relief for the centers should come from the firms that make the trash.

It sounds as if the strongest arguments in favor of expansion are financial, not environmental. That's the absolutely wrong reason to nickel and dime people.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's trickle down economics at it's best (or worst depending).

July 25, 2012 6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that is the biggest reason that the bottle bill should be expanded, I think that is in response to people who say 'its a job killer', which is admittedly a lame response to a lame argument.
I think the best reason is to walk around a neighborhood or park and look at all the bottles without deposits littering the public spaces and in trash cans.

July 25, 2012 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of your best (re: most sensible) posts in a long time. My opposition to an expanded bottle bill - make that ANY bottle bill - at this point in time is similar. Curbside recycling is widespread, and participation rates continue to climb in most communities. Yet when first introduced some 15 years ago, advocates for curbside recycling promised that a booming market for recyclables would generate enough cash flow to subsidize rubbish collection and disposal. To date, returns on recyclables don't even pay for the RECYCLING component, let alone the rubbish. The best way to accomplish this is to introduce more volume into the curbside recycling stream. Because the bottle bill siphons volume OUT of the curbside recycling stream, it is counterproductive as policy. The sole logic behind maintaining and/or expanding it, therefore, is that the state gets to keep the receipts from unredeemed containers. Sadly, it once again comes down to more money for state government

July 26, 2012 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the purpose of the bottle bill? Is it to discourage rampant littering, or is it to capture plastic, metal, and glass to recycle the material into new products and keep them out of landfills? Arguably, increasing use of curbside recycling bins by towns has improved, but one only has to take a walk around their neighborhood to see that a new generation of trash from water bottles to juice bottles and sport drinks has sprouted up to take the place of the soda and beer containers of yesterday. These drinks, almost exclusively single serving containers, are routinely tossed by the roadsides, and are a new source of littering, and loss of material for recycling. They are not being captured by curbside recycling programs. Adding deposits to them will go a long way to reducing the littler problem, and also increase the recycling of their raw materials.

July 27, 2012 12:24 PM  

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