Committee Issues Bottle Bill to a Study Order

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy voted to study the expanded bottle bill, which will likely stop the proposal until next January, when the next legislative session begins. The expanded bottle bill seeks to cover more types of beverages than just beer and soda so that it also includes iced tea, fruit juice and other non-alcoholic, non-carbonated, bottled or canned drinks.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has held a firm line against any new taxes or tax increases in the fiscal 2013 budget, which is why House Chair of the Committee Representative John Keenan (D-Salem) sent the proposal to a further study. The expansion was expected to bring in as much as $20 million in new state revenue from unreturned bottles.

Supporters of the proposal claim that it would reduce litter and the amount of waste sent to landfills. Opponents claim that stores do not have the capacity to handle an influx of newly returnable empties. The telecommunications committee kept polls open after an initial vote of seven to five, leading to the study order later passed by a vote of 10 to 7.

Sending the bill to study rather than recommending favorable or unfavorable action greatly diminishes the bill’s chances of the legislation emerging this session.

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