, Salem, MA

April 30, 2014

Letter: Representative's support for Bottle Bill questioned

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I appreciated Duncan Cox’s letter to the editor (“Bottle bill would help battle plastic waste problem,” April 25) advocating for the updated Bottle Bill, which broadens the list of beverage containers requiring deposits. Since the 1980s Bottle Bill, sports drinks, flavored water, and teas — many of them “grab and go” drinks — have proliferated. They don’t require a deposit, so people don’t return the bottles and foragers don’t pick them up or out of trash and recycling bins. As a result, too many discards end up on our streets, in our parks, on our beaches and in our waters.

Those of us who participate in local cleanup projects, including the upcoming citywide Clean Salem Green Salem, deal with the problem first-hand. Across the commonwealth, 208 cities and towns endorse an updated Bottle Bill, and 77 percent of the public supports it. Former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino strongly supports it, saying it would “help clean up our neighborhoods, expand recycling, and save cities and towns money at a time when we need it the most.”

State Rep. John Keenan, who heads the House Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy, disagrees. To’s Andy Metzger, he said he’d vote to send the bill (H 2943) out of committee only if a legislative subcommittee cobbles “a compromise that the parties support.” The bill will thus either lose its teeth or fail to make it to the House floor for a vote.

Rep. Keenan’s reasons for opposing an updated Bottle Bill didn’t make much sense to me when I asked him about it following Furlong Park’s rededication ceremony a few years ago. (He also admitted to not being much of a recycler. Not a crime, but not exactly good role-modeling, either.) What he did say was that he planned to unveil a cost-efficient, technology-driven alternative for container disposal. But it’s been years, and no word yet on that.

So, to Mr. Cox, who is hoping to see a robust H 2943 pass out of committee onto the floor, I would say, don’t hold your breath. We’ll have to get it done in the voting booth: only 11,485 more signatures are needed to get it on the state ballot this year.

Leslie Limon