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Legislature Working Out Update to Bottle Bill

Included as an amendment to a bigger jobs bill, the update would expand the bottle redemption law to include plastic bottles used for water and juice.

House and Senate leaders started debating Wednesday whether to include an expanded bottle deposit amendment in a bill designed to spur job creation. 

The bill was passed in the Senate Thursday and is now being hashed out in a conference committee comprised of members of both chambers. Gov. Deval Patrick has said that he supports it.

But the House has fought passage of an expanded bottle bill, which Speaker Robert DeLeo and others in the House view as a tax. But Sen. Robert Hedlund disputes this view, saying that taxes can't be redeemed. 

The expansion to the 31-year-old law designed to promote recycling and reduce litter would add plastic bottles used for water, juices, iced tea and sports drinks to the list of containers subject to the 5-cent bottle deposit. Under the law, these types of containers carry a 5-cent redeemable deposit that can be collected when they are returned to the store. 

Opponents say the bill increases costs for businesses and consumers. Supporters say it encourages more recycling.

The governor has said that the state could collect up to $58 million a year on unredeemed bottles, and that the program cuts the cost to city of recycling the bottles. 

A finalized version of the bill will need to be sent through both chambers before going to the governor's desk by July 31. 

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