Recycling rates throughout the Commonwealth are falling. In their most recent annual recycling report, the Department of Environmental Protection noted example after example of cities and towns where the rate has fallen dramatically – and this decrease in recycling rates is placing a huge strain on solid waste management programs in the Commonwealth.
Senator Eldridge is proposing three pieces of legislation designed to increase recycling rates in the Commonwealth, decrease litter, and alleviate the pressure on our sanitary landfills.
An Act to Restore the Clean Environment Fund
Why this Matters: The Clean Environment Fund, created in 1989, was established using unclaimed bottle deposits. These funds were supposed to be used to support recycling, composting, solid waste reduction, and bottle bill related programs. The program was eliminated in 2002 to free funds to balance the budget.
Restoring the Clean Environment Fund would return abandoned deposit spending to the purposes originally intended by the legislature, provide needed assistance to cities and towns, and help our state reach its recycling goals.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill will reestablish a separate fund into which the proceeds from all unredeemed bottle bill deposits collected are deposited. The deposits would be used solely for programs and projects to manage solid waste and protect the environment.
o Not less than 60% of the deposits would go to support programs for waste reduction, recycling, composting, outreach, infrastructure and market development. These programs would be available to public, private, and institutional sectors.
o Not less than 10% of the deposits would used by the Department of Environmental Protection to implement the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
o The fund may also be used for capital improvements to public parks so long as they meet LEEDS building standards.
An Act to Encourage Recycling Near Vending Machines & An Act to Increase Recycling by Landlords and Tenants
Why These Matter: Any time we can make it easier for people to recycle, they are more likely to do so. By putting more recycling containers near the places where people are most likely to need them – e.g. in their homes and by vending machines – we can increase local recycling rates.
An Act to Encourage Recycling Near Vending Machines would encourage recycling by requiring vending machine operators to provide clearly marked receptacles for disposing of recyclable containers near the vending machine(s).
An Act to Increase Recycling by Landlords and Tenants would encourage recycling in multi-family units by requiring the owner of any apartment building with three or more units OR any condominium association consisting of three or more units to provide the means and materials necessary to allow tenants or owners in those units to recycle paper, glass containers, and certain common plastics.