Massachusetts Expansion of Bottle Deposits Initiative, Question 2 (2014)

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Question 2
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Type:State statute
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Environment
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
Seal of Massachusetts.png
November 4
Question 1 Approveda
Question 2 Defeatedd
Question 3 Defeatedd
Question 4 Approveda
Polls

The Massachusetts Expansion of Bottle Deposits Initiative, Question 2 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Massachusetts as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have expanded the state’s beverage container deposit law to require deposits on all containers of nonalcoholic drinks, except beverages derived from dairy, infant formula or medications.[1]

MASSPIRG, an organization that supported the initiative, stated that supporters turned in over 27,000 signatures on June 18, 2014, in an attempt to get the initiative placed on the ballot.[2] The measure was certified for the 2014 ballot on July 2, 2014.[3]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Massachusetts Question 2
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,561,59173.45%
Yes 564,381 26.55%

Election results via: Massachusetts Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The ballot summary was as follows:[4]

This proposed law would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law, also known as the Bottle Bill, to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic non-carbonated drinks in liquid form intended for human consumption, except beverages primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, and FDA approved medicines. The proposed law would not cover containers made of paper-based biodegradable material and aseptic multi-material packages such as juice boxes or pouches.

The proposed law would require the state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to adjust the container deposit amount every five years to reflect (to the nearest whole cent) changes in the consumer price index, but the value could not be set below five cents.

The proposed law would increase the minimum handling fee that beverage distributors must pay dealers for each properly returned empty beverage container, which was 2¼ cents as of September 2013, to 3½ cents. It would also increase the minimum handling fee that bottlers must pay distributors and dealers for each properly returned empty reusable beverage container, which was 1 cent as of September 2013, to 3½ cents. The Secretary of EEA would review the fee amounts every five years and make appropriate adjustments to reflect changes in the consumer price index as well as changes in the costs incurred by redemption centers. The proposed law defines a redemption center as any business whose primary purpose is the redemption of beverage containers and that is not ancillary to any other business.

The proposed law would direct the Secretary of EEA to issue regulations allowing small dealers to seek exemptions from accepting empty deposit containers. The proposed law would define small dealer as any person or business, including the operator of a vending machine, who sells beverages in beverage containers to consumers, with a contiguous retail space of 3,000 square feet or less, excluding office and stock room space; and fewer than four locations under the same ownership in the Commonwealth. The proposed law would require that the regulations consider at least the health, safety, and convenience of the public, including the distribution of dealers and redemption centers by population or by distance or both.

The proposed law would set up a state Clean Environment Fund to receive certain unclaimed container deposits. The Fund would be used, subject to appropriation by the state Legislature, to support programs such as the proper management of solid waste, water resource protection, parkland, urban forestry, air quality and climate protection.

The proposed law would allow a dealer, distributor, redemption center or bottler to refuse to accept any beverage container that is not marked as being refundable in Massachusetts.

The proposed law would take effect on April 22, 2015.

A YES VOTE would expand the state’s beverage container deposit law to require deposits on containers for all non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drinks with certain exceptions, increase the associated handling fees, and make other changes to the law.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws regarding beverage container deposits. [5]

Full text

The full text of the measure was as follows:[4]

Be it enacted by the People, and by their authority:

SECTION 1. Section 321 of chapter 94 of the General Laws is hereby amended by deleting the definition of “Beverage” and replacing it with the following definition:-

“Beverage”, soda water or similar carbonated soft drinks, noncarbonated non-alcoholic beverages in liquid form intended for human consumption, mineral water, beer, and other malt beverages. This definition excludes beverages that are primarily derived from dairy products, infant formula, united states food and drug administration-approved medicines, wine, and alcoholic beverages other than beer and malt beverages as defined in chapter one hundred and thirty-eight.

SECTION 2. Paragraph 3 of said section 321 of said chapter 94 is hereby amended by striking out the last sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:-

This definition shall not include containers made of paper-based biodegradable material and aseptic multi-layer packaging.

SECTION 3. Said section 321 of said chapter 94 is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Plastic bottle” the following definition:-

“Redemption center”, any business whose primary purpose is the redemption of beverage containers and which is not ancillary to any other business.

SECTION 4. Said section 321 of said chapter 94 is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Reusable beverage container” the following definition:-

“Small dealer”, any person or business, including any operator of a vending machine, who engages in the sale of beverages in beverage containers to consumers in the commonwealth, with a contiguous retail space of 3,000 square feet or less, exclusive of office and stock room space; and fewer than four (4) locations under the same ownership within the Commonwealth.

SECTION 5. Section 322 of said chapter 94 is hereby amended by inserting after said section the following section:-

Section 322A: The secretary of the executive office of energy and environmental affairs shall review the refund value as referenced in section 322 every five (5) years and adjust said amount to the nearest whole cent to reflect the consumer price index as reported by the united states department of labor, but in no case shall the refund value be less than five (5) cents.

SECTION 6. Paragraph (c) of said section 323 of said chapter 94 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out the words “one cent” and inserting in place thereof the words “three and one half cents” and by adding the following sentence:-

The handling fee shall be reviewed every five (5) years by the secretary of the executive office of energy and environmental affairs and adjustments made to reflect the consumer price index as reported by the united states department of labor, or equivalent index selected by the secretary if the consumer price index is discontinued, as well as industry-specific increases or decreases in costs incurred by redemption centers.

SECTION 7. Paragraph (d) of said section 323 of said chapter 94 is hereby amended by striking out the words “one cent” and inserting in place thereof the words “three and one half cents” and by adding the following sentence:-

The handling fee shall be reviewed every five (5) years by the secretary of the executive office of energy and environmental affairs and adjustments made to reflect the consumer price index as reported by the united states department of labor, or equivalent index selected by the secretary if the consumer price index is discontinued, as well as industry-specific increases or decreases in costs incurred by redemption centers.

SECTION 8. Paragraph (f) of said section 323 of said chapter 94 is hereby amended by changing the period at the end of the current paragraph into a comma, and adding the words “or for which there is no Massachusetts refund legend on the beverage container.”

SECTION 9. Said chapter 94 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 323E the following section:-

Section 323F. (a) There shall be established on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the clean environment fund. All abandoned deposits collected pursuant to chapter 94, section 323D shall be deposited into the clean environment fund. Amounts deposited in said fund shall be used, subject to appropriation, for programs including but not limited to projects supporting the proper management of solid waste, water resource protection, parkland, urban forestry, air quality and climate protection.

SECTION 10. Paragraph (b) of said section 323 of said chapter 94 is hereby amended by inserting the following words after the current paragraph:- Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the secretary of the executive office of energy and environmental affairs shall, on or before June 22, 2015, promulgate regulations providing small dealers with the right to seek exemptions from accepting empty deposit containers. Said regulations shall consider at least the health and safety of the public, and the convenience for the public, including distribution of dealers and redemption centers by population or by distance or both.

SECTION 11. This act shall take effect on April 22, 2015. [5]

Support


Stop Litter: Vote Yes on 2
Yes on 2 MA 2014.png

The campaign organizations that supported the initiative were the Coalition for a Litter-Free Massachusetts and Stop Litter: Yes on 2.[6]

Supporters

Officials

Organizations

Arguments

The arguments supporting Question 2 that were listed on the official support campaign's website, Stop Litter: Yes on 2, were as follows:

We need to stop litter and keep Massachusetts clean.

A YES vote on Question 2 will do that by finally updating a successful 32-year-old law (the 1982 “Bottle Bill”) to include five cent deposits on water bottles, iced tea bottles, and sports drinks. Here are the facts about Question 2:

  • Currently, 80% of bottles and cans with a deposit on them are recycled, while only 23% of containers without a deposit are recycled. The rest of those containers become litter or end up in landfills and incinerators.
  • A recent Boston Globe poll documented 62% public support for updating the bottle bill. More than 120 local and state environmental and civic organizations are leading the charge on Yes on 2, including Sierra Club, Mass Audubon, Environmental League of Massachusetts, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and MASSPIRG. The updated Bottle Bill was endorsed by more than 400 small businesses, and more than 200 cities and towns passed resolutions in favor of it.
  • When we began returning bottles for a deposit over 30 years ago, soda and beer bottles and cans were the litter problem. Beverages like bottled water, sports drinks, and iced teas were not widely on the market. We need to update the Bottle Bill so more beverage containers will be recycled rather than ending up as litter.
  • The updated Bottle Bill will save our cities and towns approximately $6.7 million a year—or an average of $1 per person in our state—in litter pick up and trash disposal costs (figures from Department of Environmental Protection’s study). It also will mean less waste going to landfills and incinerators. And any unclaimed deposits will go to a state fund earmarked for recycling and environmental programs.
  • Corporations that make big profits selling water and sports drinks have been working to block the updated Bottle Bill for years. They’ve already put in $7.9 million dollars to defeat Question 2. Among those against this bill in the Legislature: Coca-Cola, Polar Beverages, and Ocean Spray.[5]

Stop Litter: Yes on 2, [9]

  • Phil Sego of the Massachusetts Sierra Club argued that playgrounds, parks and rivers were “choked with empty bottles and cans” because non-deposit beverages are often discarded.[8]

Arguments in favor of Question 2 listed in the state's official voter's guide were as follows:

A YES vote will improve the “Bottle Bill,” where consumers put down a refundable nickel deposit on a beer or soda. People get the nickel back when they return the container. A YES vote will extend this program to cover other beverages such as bottled water. The Bottle Bill works: 80% of beer and soda containers get recycled. Only 23% of non-deposit containers do. So every year a billion bottles get tossed away, often on playgrounds, roads and beaches. Communities have to pay to clean them up.

A YES vote equals more recycling, less trash and litter, and big savings for towns’ waste management costs. That’s why this idea was endorsed by 209 of our cities and towns, as well as Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, 350 business leaders, and independent groups like the League of Women Voters, MASSPIRG, Sierra Club and hundreds more.[5]

—Coalition for an Updated Bottle Bill, [10]

Campaign contributions

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
as of November 20, 2014
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $1,598,399
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $9,628,048

As of November 20, 2014, three campaign organizations had received an aggregate total of more than $1.5 million in contributions.[11]

PAC info:

PAC/Ballot measure group Amount raised Amount spent
Update the Bottle Bill $80,840 $0
Mass Sierra Club Bottle Bill Committee $144,156 $143,312
Coalition for an Updated Bottle Bill $1,373,402 $1,357,406
Total $1,598,399 $1,500,718

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Massachusetts Sierra Club $629,000
Elm Action Fund $526,443
MA Sierra Club $134,000
Mass Sierra Club Bottle Bill Committee $126,500

Opposition


No on Question 2: "The Facts About Question 2"
No on Question 2: Stop Forced Deposits

The campaign organization opposing the initiative was No on Question 2.[12]

Opposition

  • Massachusetts Food Association[8]

Arguments

Arguments opposing Question 2 that were listed on the official opposition website, No on Question 2, were as follows:

THE BOTTLE DEPOSIT LAW IS AN OLD IDEA.

While forced deposit systems may have been needed 30 years ago, more than 90% of Commonwealth residents now have access to curbside and other community recycling programs. These are the recycling methods most Massachusetts residents prefer. By investing in these programs that are designed to handle all recyclable materials, Massachusetts can be a leader in recycling.

QUESTION 2 WILL BE EXPENSIVE.

We already pay for curbside recycling. Per ton, forced deposit systems are three times more expensive to operate than curbside programs. Question 2 would broaden those deposits, costing almost $60 million a year to collect and handle the new containers. On top of that, every five years the deposit amount we pay would automatically increase. If the state directed that $60 million dollars to expanding curbside recycling, it would be enough to provide every single-family household in the state with curbside recycling service.

QUESTION 2 IS NOT ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE.

Beginning in the late 1980s, the bottle deposit law included an environmental fund for unclaimed deposits. The legislature saw an opportunity and raided the fund. Now instead of helping the environment, unclaimed deposits go directly to the state’s general fund. The same could be true under Question 2.

MORE GOOD REASONS TO VOTE NO ON QUESTION 2:

Because forced deposit systems are so inconvenient, many Massachusetts residents recycle their bottles and cans at the curb, rather than deal with the hassle. Question 2 would impose a higher handling fee, increasing prices on soda, juices, sports drinks, teas, water, and beer. Question 2 would increase the recycling rate by less than 1%, while costing Massachusetts tens of millions of dollars. In addition to placing a 5¢ deposit on more items, Question 2 includes a provision that increases the nickel deposits we currently pay on products every five years without a vote by the people. That means Question 2 would cost much more in the years to come.[5]

—No on Question 2, [12]

  • Chris Flynn, President of the Massachusetts Food Association, said, ”Lawmakers have rejected bottle bill expansion year after year for good reason: it would cost voters and businesses more with little environmental benefit. Massachusetts will do more for the environment by improving recycling through comprehensive solutions such as expanding and improving curbside pickup and making it easier to recycle on-the-go. Bottle bill expansion would force consumers to pay an additional $60 million in deposits on containers most of us already recycle -- it's not about the environment, it's simply a money grab.”[8]

Arguments against Question 2 listed in the state's official voter's guide were as follows:

Massachusetts should be a recycling leader, but Question 2 will keep us in the past. Ninety percent of households now have access to curbside and community recycling programs. Let’s focus on what works instead of expanding an outdated, ineffective, and inconvenient system. Everyone wants to increase recycling rates—but expanded forced deposits are the wrong approach.

Question 2 would: • cost nearly $60 million a year, more than three times the price of curbside programs (while increasing recycling rates by less than 1 percent); • waste taxpayer dollars on expanding an uneconomical, 30-year-old system; • raise your nickel deposit and additional fees every five years—without your vote.

Today, more than $30 million of your unclaimed nickels go into the state’s general fund and into the hands of politicians—not to environmental programs. Let’s stop throwing money at an inefficient system and invest in modern recycling technology. Vote NO on Question 2.[5]

—Robert L. Moylan, Comprehensive Recycling Works, [10]

Campaign contributions

As of November 20, 2014, one campaign organization had received an aggregate total of $9,030,883 in contributions.[11]

PAC info:

PAC/Ballot measure group Amount raised Amount spent
No on Question 2: Stop Forced Deposits $9,628,048 $9,100,080
Total $9,628,048 $9,100,080

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
American Beverage Association $8,262,364
NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA, INC. $500,000
Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC $300,000
Demoulas Super Markets Inc. $125,000

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Massachusetts ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • The Boston Globe said,
There will be a cost to consumers, but only if they choose not to recycle. (It should be noted, unclaimed nickels would go to a dedicated fund to support environmental programs that would pay for parks cleaning and improve recycling.) And there are municipal savings: A 2009 study commissioned by the state Department of Environmental Protection estimated that savings due to reduced collection and disposal costs to cities and towns would be between $4 million and $7 million per year.

For the whole of Massachusetts, and its future as a region that seeks to limit its environmental footprint, the benefits of expanding the bottle bill are clear.[5]

Boston Globe, [13]

  • The Daily Free Press said,
The Daily Free Press endorses a “Yes” answer on Question 2. The more incentive to recycle, the better, and if a measly extra five cents can convince people to recycle carbonated beverages, it will obviously do the same for the non-carbonated ones.[5]

Daily Free Press, [14]

Opposition

  • The Republican said,
Expanding the bottle redeeming program is a step in the wrong direction for Massachusetts. Vote no on Question Two...Citizens should use the referendum process only rarely, when the normal legislative process truly fails and the public needs redress. As a result The Republican is recommending a "no" vote on all ballot proposals this year.

Streamlining recycling, not fragmenting it, will help put Massachusetts on better track with its efforts to recycle.[5]

Republican, [15]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Massachusetts Question 2 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
The Boston Globe
8/3/2014-8/5/2014, 8/10/2014-8/12/2014
62.0%27.0%10.0%+/-4.0606
UMass Amherst/WBZ Poll
9/18/2014-9/23/2014
35.0%54.0%11.0%+/-4.4708
AVERAGES 48.5% 40.5% 10.5% +/-4.2 657
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts

Supporters first had to submit the initiative, signed by ten voters, to the Massachusetts Attorney General by August 7, 2013. The attorney general then had to determine whether the measure met the legal requirements for circulation, which it did.[16]

To qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 68,911 valid signatures by November 20, 2013, and submit them to local registrars for certification. Then, these certified petitions were successfully filed with the secretary of state on the December 4, 2013, deadline, after which the secretary of state determined enough valid signatures had been collected. An estimated 105,000 signatures were submitted.[8]

The Massachusetts General Court had until May 7, 2014, to either accept or reject the measure or take no action. No action was taken; therefore, the original supporters of the measure had to collect an additional 11,485 signatures and submit them to local registrars for certification by June 18, 2014, which they did. These signatures then had to be filed with the secretary of state no later than July 2, 2014.[16][17][18] The measure was certified for the 2014 ballot on July 2, 2014.[3]

See also

BP-Initials-UPDATED.png
Suggest a link

External links

Support

Opposition

References

  1. Office of the Attorney General, "Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to Updating the Bottle Bill," accessed December 6, 2013
  2. MASSPIRG, "Campaign to Update the Bottle Bill Gathers Over 27,000 Signatures!," June 12, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 New England Public Radio, "4 Ballot Questions Before Mass. Voters," July 3, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Massachusetts Secretary of State, "Question 2: Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law," accessed September 17, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. Coalition for a Litter-Free Massachusetts
  7. WCVB, "Patrick backs ballot measure on bottle deposits," September 24, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 South Coast Today, "Bottle bill expansion, limits to gas-tax on track for 2014 ballot," December 4, 2013
  9. Stop Litter: Yes on 2, "Facts about Question 2 and the Bottle Bill," accessed September 30, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Massachusetts Information for Voters: 2014 Ballot Questions, "Question 2: Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law," accessed October 1, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 OCPF, "Question 2: Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law," accessed December 6, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 No on Question 2, "Facts," accessed September 30, 2014
  13. Boston Globe, "Yes on Question 2: Expand the bottle bill," October 22, 2014
  14. Daily Free Press, "EDIT: Massachusetts Ballot Question 2," October 28, 2014
  15. Republican, "Editorial: No to Question 2, expanding the bottle bill," October 30, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 State Ballot Question Petitions, "CALENDAR FOR AN INITIATIVE PETITION FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT," accessed December 3, 2013
  17. Weymouth News, "State House News -- Initiative petition campaigns keep on pace for 2014 ballot," December 4, 2013
  18. Massachusetts Secretary of State, "State Ballot Question Petitions," accessed May 13, 2014