Supporters of a ballot Initiative to update the state’s Bottle Deposit Law gathered on the steps of the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday to announce they collected almost double the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot, and to deliver them safely to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division.
Although 68,911 valid signatures are required to put a question on the ballot, the Updated Bottle Bill campaign gathered 130,000 signatures from all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. Now with 130,000 signatures collected – over 105,000 certified by city and town clerks – attention will turn back to the legislature, which has several months to act on this bill before it heads to the November 2014 ballot.
This petition effort was spearheaded by a broad coalition of the state’s environmental, civic and advocacy groups including the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the Sierra Club, MASSPIRG, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the South Shore Recycling Cooperative, and the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts.
The state’s bottle bill, the nickel deposit on soda, was originally passed over 30 years ago. The deposit covers only carbonated beverages, the popular beverage when the original bill passed. Now water, juices, and sports drinks dominate the marketplace, and there has been a sharp increase in litter of those types of containers. Recycling rates of soda bottles and cans, covered by the 5¢ deposit, is nearly 80%, but only 23% of water, juice, and other non-covered beverage containers are recycled. Legislation to update the law has been introduced for almost a decade but has never passed.