Real Recycling for Massachusetts warns consumers about hidden tax hike in ‘jobs bill’
Senate’s costly bottle bill amendment will raise the cost of groceries, threaten thousands of jobs and hit Massachusetts families for $22 million with hidden tax
BOSTON, July 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Real Recycling for Massachusetts – an organization of citizens, businesses, trade organizations and unions – today warned Bay State consumers about a hidden tax that was attached to legislation designed to generate economic development and job creation.
Last week, the Massachusetts Senate voted to slip in the hidden tax – an expansion of the bottle bill that will add five cents to a variety of beverages such as iced tea, water, sports drinks and juices – to their version of the ‘jobs bill’ slated to pass by the end of this legislative session. The move comes just a little over a month after the Senate voted to reject the same proposal. Last month the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy also rejected bottle bill expansion, which is projected to have virtually no positive impact on recycling rates.
“It’s unbelievable that with so many Massachusetts families still struggling to make ends meet, the Senate would tack on a job-killing amendment that is nothing more than another tax,” said Chris Flynn, President of the Massachusetts Food Association and a member of Real Recycling for Massachusetts. “Nothing has changed in a month. Bottle bill expansion is not only bad for consumers and businesses, but it is bad for jobs and has absolutely no place in a bill aimed at creating them.”
The proceeds from bottle bill expansion – which is estimated to cost Massachusetts families $22 million a year in bottle deposits – is not slated for recycling efforts, but instead will go directly to the state’s general fund. In addition, it will raise the price of groceries by as much as $116 million a year, while costing retailers, grocers and beverage companies an estimated $58 million annually in additional operating costs. It will also negatively impact 3,700 high quality beverage industry jobs throughout the Commonwealth.
“A new tax that will raise the cost of groceries and put thousands of jobs at risk is the last thing Massachusetts needs, and that it would be included in a bill aimed at helping families that are struggling to make ends meet is truly puzzling,” said Flynn. “In addition to burdening taxpayers and businesses, bottle bill expansion would have virtually no positive impact on the environment. Massachusetts needs to increase recycling, but the only thing significantly increased by bottle bill expansion is the amount that Massachusetts families are being taxed.”
The existing bottle bill charges an extra five cents for beer and soda products and was passed 30 years ago before Massachusetts adopted widespread curbside and other recycling programs. The expanded bottle bill continues to focus on a narrow portion of the waste stream, and it is estimated to increase the state’s recycling rate by only 0.12 percent.
As an alternative to the bottle bill, Real Recycling for Massachusetts advocates for expanded recycling through measures that are more effective and less burdensome, including expanding curbside pickup, making it easier to recycle on-the-go, making recycling accessible in more public places such as parks and arenas, and supporting comprehensive litter prevention programs.
Last month, the Massachusetts Beverage Association and the Massachusetts Food Association announced the Massachusetts Recycling Challenge, a comprehensive two-year initiative aimed at increasing recycling in communities throughout the Commonwealth. This program is designed to enhance residential recycling programs, while also increasing the presence of ‘on-the-go’ receptacles to encourage recycling in public places.
“Our industry is committed to playing a leading role in increasing recycling, and we believe that initiatives like these can make a positive and sustained impact in the Commonwealth,” said Flynn. “The consensus is clear: when voters have the full information about the bottle bill, more than 60 percent are against its expansion. We believe strongly that the right path forward includes comprehensive programs that target the entire waste stream, not counting bottles and cans at the expense of hardworking Massachusetts residents.”
Real Recycling for Massachusetts is a growing coalition of concerned citizens, businesses, and organizations, including the Massachusetts Food Association, Massachusetts Beverage Association, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Poland Spring Bottling Company, Polar Beverages, Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, Kappy’s Liquors, Tedeschi Food Shops, Inc., Massachusetts Package Stores Association, the New England Convenience Store Association, National Federation of Independent Business, the International Bottled Water Association, and unions including Local 513 RWDSU/UFCW – representing drivers and plant workers – and Local 1271 IAW/AW – representing beverage container machinists.
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SOURCE Real Recycling for Massachusetts