Litter is taking a toll on Massachusetts’ health and economy. These three reasons show how an updated bottle bill could help us change that.
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.
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.
Wrestling humanity away from single-use plastics will not be easy. But we can start by reducing our reliance on single-use plastic beverage containers.
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.
My first day on the job as Connecticut River Conservancy’s newest River Steward was a whirlwind – literally. We got an early morning start with our friends at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for a windy trip up and down the Connecticut River on their airboat. As we came to our first stop and dismounted the boat, I was shocked and disappointed to see the amount of plastic bottles and nips littering Connecticut’s shoreline.
Despite many good intentions, curbside recycling has turned out to be a disaster. But that doesn’t mean recycling is dead. We have solutions. One of the best systems for recycling our plastic, glass, and aluminum containers is the bottle return program, also known as the “bottle bill” or deposit-return.
Although some New England states pioneered the bottle return system, they have since fallen behind. But New England can improve its recycling by updating or adopting bottle return systems in each state. This would help reduce litter in our neighborhoods, parks, and waterways; it would keep recyclable material out of landfills and incinerators; and it would lift some recycling costs off of communities.