Big Plastic is working to block progress on laws to regulate plastic pollution. Here’s how CLF and our allies are fighting back.
Big Beverage companies drive the global plastic pollution crisis, thanks to the single-use bottles in which they sell their beverages. They also do everything they can to maintain the status quo by sabotaging efforts to reform our recycling systems. That’s why we’re exposing Big Beverage’s playbook – because we can no longer afford to let them avoid responsibility while we drown in plastic pollution.
“For decades, the beverage industry has done everything in its power to keep our failed recycling systems in place and prevent new solutions,” said Kirstie Pecci, Director of CLF’s Zero Waste Project. “Most bottles and cans in the U.S. still end up buried in landfills, burned in incinerators, or littering our communities. We must hold Big Beverage accountable for the mess it’s made and invest in real solutions for bottle and can recycling.”
Over the past few years, recycling prices across the U.S. have soared, with some cities and towns now spending millions of dollars on their programs. To understand the financial burden our communities are facing, I spent the better part of last year collecting recycling data from Massachusetts cities and towns. Here’s what I learned.
Connecticut’s updated bottle bill is both a step forward and a step back. We break down the good, the bad, and the ugly of the new legislation.
“Our legislators had the opportunity to pass a strong bill to reduce waste, increase recycling rates and slash pollution in our communities,” said Kevin Budris, Zero Waste Attorney at CLF. “While this bill includes some important updates, it’s not nearly as strong as it should have been. At the eleventh hour, legislators have handed the beverage industry the keys to the state’s bottle return system and significantly compromised the effectiveness of the legislation.”
“Updating Vermont’s bottle bill is a win-win for our communities and our environment,” said Jen Duggan, Vice President & Director of CLF Vermont. “These changes to the bottle bill will result in less climate pollution and waste in our landfills, more green jobs, and millions of dollars for the state’s clean water fund. Passing this legislation into law is just plain common sense.”
Is the systemic idea of Zero Waste actually possible? Yes! But to do so, we need to stop looking at Zero Waste as just a lifestyle and start looking at it as a strategic concept for managing our waste – and tackling the trash crisis.
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing concerns caused many New England states with bottle return programs to temporarily stop enforcing collection requirements at grocery stores, supermarkets, and liquor shops. Connecticut was among the states pressing pause on bottle bill enforcement. But as of May 20, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has reinstated bottle collection requirements at these retail sites.
“Public health must always be the primary concern,” said Kirstie Pecci, Director of the Zero Waste Project at CLF. “However, the scientific community has made it clear that the risk of transmitting the virus by touching a bag or bottle is almost nonexistent. Allowing reusable bags and resuming bottle deposits will keep tons of plastic out of landfills or incinerators and stop it from further polluting our land and air.”