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Real Recycling for Massachusetts warns consumers about taxes

Real Recycling for Massachusetts – an organization of citizens, businesses, trade organizations and unions – warned Bay State consumers about a hidden tax that was attached to legislation designed to generate economic development and job creation.

The Massachusetts Senate voted to slip in the hidden tax – an expansion of the bottle bill that will add five cents to a variety of beverages such as iced tea, water, sports drinks and juices – to their version of the “jobs bill” slated to pass by the end of this legislative session. The move comes just a little over a month after the Senate voted to reject the same proposal. Last month the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy also rejected bottle bill expansion, which is projected to have virtually no positive impact on recycling rates.

“It’s unbelievable that with so many Massachusetts families still struggling to make ends meet, the Senate would tack on a job-killing amendment that is nothing more than another tax,” said Chris Flynn, president of the Massachusetts Food Association and a member of Real Recycling for Massachusetts. “Nothing has changed in a month. Bottle bill expansion is not only bad for consumers and businesses, but it is bad for jobs and has absolutely no place in a bill aimed at creating them.”

The proceeds from bottle bill expansion – which is estimated to cost Massachusetts families $22 million per year in bottle deposits – is not slated for recycling efforts, but instead will go directly to the state’s general fund. In addition, it will raise the price of groceries by as much as $116 million per year, while costing retailers, grocers and beverage companies an estimated $58 million annually in additional operating costs. It will also negatively impact 3,700 high-quality beverage industry jobs throughout the Commonwealth.

The existing bottle bill charges an extra five cents for beer and soda products and was passed 30 years ago before Massachusetts adopted widespread curbside and other recycling programs.

The expanded bottle bill continues to focus on a narrow portion of the waste stream, and it is estimated to increase the state’s recycling rate by only 0.12 percent.

As an alternative to the bottle bill, Real Recycling for Massachusetts advocates for expanded recycling through measures that are more effective and less burdensome, including expanding curbside pickup, making it easier to recycle on-the-go, making recycling accessible in more public places such as parks and arenas and supporting comprehensive litter prevention programs.