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The saga of the Massachusetts Bottle Bill is a small story. But in its simplicity one can see a greater story emerge. This is a classic story of how corporations lie and distort facts. In this case, that deceit may have visible and economic consequences. And those effects can still be avoided.
Massachusetts Ballot Question #2 has become known as the Bottle Bill. Voting “YES” means extending the 5-cent deposit that consumers pay on bottles and cans of beer and carbonated beverages to non-carbonated beverages. This non-carbonated category is rather large. It includes water bottles, juice, Gatorade, and iced tea.
At first, most Massachusetts supported extending the Bottle Bill to non-carbonated beverages. In August 2014, 62% of likely Massachusetts voters planned to vote YES. They wanted to approve this easy act of everyday environmentalism.
But now the Bottle Bill may fail. MISERABLY. Today support hovers at an anemic 29%. In the words of the Boston Globe, it looks like a landslide worse than “Nixon’s 1972 trouncing of George McGovern.” If your memory doesn’t extend back that far, Nixon carried 520 electoral votes to McGovern’s measly 17.
Why might the Bottle Bill fail? How did the state change its mind faster than a teenage girl changes outfits? — The answer is BIG BUSINESS! I know, shocker, right?
In the early fall, the American Beverage Association and big super market chains embarked on an advertising blitz. They spent almost $10 million on advertising to oppose Ballot Question #2 (aka extending the Bottle Bill).
Needless to say, their ads were filled with lies. Their barrage of ads claimed that extending the Bottle Bill is unnecessary because 90% of state residents have curbside recycling. In reality only about 65% have that access.
Although Ballot Question #2 seems like a simple idea, in reality, it would do a great deal. The Boston Globe supports this ballot initiative for a few good reasons.
Voting YES on Ballot Question #2 to extend the Bottle Bill would:
At the end of the day, even if the corporations were right, would it matter? Let’s pretend that even 100% of state residents had access to curbside recycling. Does that mean ALL bottles would be recycled? Of course not!
It shouldn’t be an either-or choice between curbside recycling OR a bottle-deposit system. Both can coexist. And both have already existed side-by-side for beer and sodas for years. In the words of that wise little girl from the Old El Paso at-home taco kit commercials … WHY NOT BOTH?
Vote YES on Question 2! Extend the Bottle Bill!
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