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Coalition Collects Enough Signatures to Put Updated Bottle Bill on Ballot

12/2/2013 BOSTON–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.

“From Salem to Stockbridge, from North Adams to New Bedford, we have signatures and support from citizens in every single one of the state’s 351 cities and towns,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG. “It’s hard to find someone who objects to reducing litter and increasing recycling.”

Although 68,911 valid signatures are required to put a question on the ballot, the Updated Bottle Bill campaign gathered 130,000 signatures, nearly double what is needed.

“We originally hoped to get 100,000 signatures, however we met with so much success and positive feedback that we just kept going,” said Lynn Wolbarst, environmental specialist with the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.

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.

Now with 130,000 signatures turned in – 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.

“It defies logic that the Legislature has sat on such a popular, common sense, and money-saving bill for so many years,” noted Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG. “Maybe this overwhelming signature drive will finally get the message to them to pass this bill.”

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