UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston students drink in the environment

The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG) of students at University of Massachusetts Boston has been working around the clock on the Massachusetts Bottle Bill, better known as Question 2, that will show up on the ballot that voters will see on Nov. 4. Question 2 will apply the five-cent deposit on water bottles, sports drinks, and teas, which MassPIRG supports.

A board of students within MassPIRG campaigned for the bill to be placed on the ballot, and after failing in the House and passing in the Senate, it will finally be decided by voters.

“The Bottle Bill interests MassPIRG because the environment affects all of us; recycling is a basic thing we can do as people,” states Alicia Bissonnette, campus organizer at MassPIRG Students.

The Bottle Bill was successful in 1982, and it was then also run by students who cared for the environment. The student lead effort is the only reason the question is on the ballot in November. In this way the students claim ownership for this achievement. Also, in the 1980s, sports drinks, and water bottles were practically nonexistent.

The main reason for issues concerning the bill originate from beverage company opposition in the form of advertisements pushing for curbside recycling — on which they spent $8 million of out of state money.

The problem with this is that only 47% of municipalities have curbside recycling, which only counts for 64% of the population in Massachusetts. In addition the bottle bill has no connection with curbside recycling.

Another opposing view is that people do not need the deposit, as apparently there is very little litter. In fact, 80% of bottles that have a recycling symbol on them are recycled in some way; however, only 23% of juice and sports drink bottles are recycled.

Proving this, UMass Boston students performed a Charles River clean-up and collected over 300 bottles. Two-thirds of them were non-deposit.

Those that say that they would not enjoy having their taxes go to politicians must know that each deposited nickel goes straight back to help cleaning up the environment. The Department of Environmental Protection spends $7 million on clean-up and the bill would help alleviate this cost.

“More ways to recycle means more recycling done,” explains Bissonnette, “[The Bottle Bill] is not partisan — not one side or the other — it’s everyone.”