Here’s how advocates want to modernize the statewide Bottle Bill

You could soon get money back for nips deposits.

In this 2013 file photo, a nip lays on the ground on Washington Street. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

If a new law passes, you could be getting double the return on those bottle deposits.

An update to Massachusetts’s 1982 container deposit law, or “Bottle Bill,” will make a few key changes to the law, including increasing the deposit return from $0.05 to $0.10. The campaign behind the Better Bottle Bill launched Tuesday at an event hosted by MASSPIRG and bill sponsors Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Cynthia Creem. 

“Our climate, our environment, and our public health are connected. We know the toxins from our waste are making us, our wildlife, and our nature sick,” Decker said. “It is beyond time to act. It’s time for public health and the environment to win.”


Advocates say the updates more efficiently reduce waste, litter, and municipal costs for disposal, effectively cleaning up public spaces. The bill establishes a refundable surcharge on the purchase of “any drinkable liquid intended for human oral consumption,” according to the State House News Service. It broadens container definitions to include ones that didn’t exist in 1982, like water bottles, juices, sports drinks, iced teas, and — notably — small nip bottles of liquor. 

“It is the right time. There is no reason not to do this,” Creem said. “By expanding the container deposit system to include all these containers, we bring the Bottle Bill into the 21st century.” 

According to MASSPIRG, updates to similar bills in Oregon, Michigan, Connecticut, and Maine are already having an impact. Since implementing its law, Michigan has had a redemption rate of 89% and its waste stream reduced by 6 to 8% each year. 

“We are also seeing growth and modernization nationally. When Oregon’s 10¢ deposit went into effect in 2017, the state saw their redemption rate jump from 64% to 86% over two years,” Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, said. “We expect a nearly threefold increase in the number of people worldwide with access to container deposit systems by 2030 as governments worldwide turn to these programs to lower waste and landfilling costs.”


The legislation, H.3289 and S.2149, is cosponsored by 50 other legislators and endorsed by 55 organizations. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll also joined the press conference Tuesday to support the legislation.

“This is an opportunity to protect human health and preserve the green spaces that residents relied on during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “We are always looking for ways to enliven the spaces we gather in, and updating the Bottle Bill is one of the best ways to do that.”

The State House News Service reported that Massachusetts voters rejected a 2014 ballot question expanding the bottle bill, with 26% voting in favor and 71% against. In 2014, opponents argued the bill would cost more with little environmental benefit and the state should instead focus on improving curbside recycling.

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