Study: Massachusetts bottle bill adds at least $85M to state economy
- A new study from the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) estimates that the Massachusetts bottle deposit system contributes anywhere from $85 million to $151 million to the state's economy. This includes supporting more than 2,000 jobs — at least 1,480 of those directly in the industry — and generating at least $7 million in tax revenue.
- More than 1.2 billion containers were recovered in 2015 and consumers received $62.3 million in refunds. The state received an additional $43.4 million in unrecovered deposits. Redemption centers and retailers made $32 million. Distributors and processors made nearly $19 million.
- CRI's study estimated that repealing the bottle bill would cost local municipalities an estimated $20 million per year in recycling and disposal costs and also lead to net job loss. "Overall, the employment and other economic benefits enjoyed under the Bottle Bill in Massachusetts are considerable, and the cost of an alternative system would appear to be costly, with no significant and obvious advantage," reads the report.
Overall the Massachusetts market comprises an estimated 2.1 billion containers per year and CRI's report provides a detailed analysis of the redemption sector, which shows a wide-ranging ecosystem of distributors and processors across the state. The report estimates that about 60% of containers sold are aluminum, 25% are glass and 15% are PET plastic. Because of multiple local processing options at companies such as Strategic Materials crushed glass in particular was worth $20 per ton in 2015.
This argument for gathering cleaner material, as well as the overall job creation and economic effects, comes amid ongoing efforts to repeal bottle bills around the country. Last year, a push was made to replace Massachusetts' bottle bill with a set tax instead. Similar concepts have also been proposed by the beverage container industry in Connecticut and Iowa this year. Opponents of this concept say the tax revenue wouldn't make up for funds lost through a redemption system. Conversely, Oregon recently took the popular step of doubling its redemption rate to 10 cents.
The case has also been made for expanding Massachusetts' bottle bill in various ways over the year to encourage more participation. That result could be helpful for the state's broader waste reduction goals depending on how changes were implemented. The most recent data showed a slight decrease in waste generation for 2015, though environmental groups have criticized these calculation methods and say the state isn't doing enough to hit its 2020 target.
- Container Recycling Institute Massachusetts Container Deposit Return System
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