Massachusetts Considers Expansion of Bottle Deposit Law
It has been more than 40 years since Massachusetts adopted a bottle deposit law to help cut down on litter and encourage recycling. Some say it isn't working.
According to a 2022 report from the Container Recycling Institute, Massachusetts has the lowest rate of people returning empty bottles and cans among the 10 states with bottle redemption laws.
Judging by the trash one routinely spies along the highways and byways of the Commonwealth, the report appears to have merit.
Mass.gov says, "There is a five-cent deposit on carbonated soft drink, beer, malt beverage and sparkling water containers sold in Massachusetts."
The law is intended to convince consumers to return the container to a redemption center when empty to receive a refund of the deposit.
Legislation is pending on Beacon Hill to expand the bottle deposit law by including more containers, such as water bottles, vitamin drinks, nips and bottles for drinks not covered by the existing law. The legislation would also double the deposit from five cents to 10 cents.
There have been unsuccessful attempts to modify the bottle deposit law in the past, most recently a ballot question that went down in defeat in 2014.
According to the Container Recycling Institute's report, only about 38 percent of plastic bottles are returned to grocery stores or redemption centers in Massachusetts, and only 40 percent of beverage containers are covered by the deposit law.
Four New England states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont – have container deposit laws. Rhode Island and New Hampshire do not.
Other states with deposit laws include California, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, New York and Oregon.