Vote ‘Yes’ on Question 2

By Joel Spiegel

(Chris Roy/Collegian Photo File)
(Chris Roy/Collegian Photo File)

There aren’t a ton of opportunities for you to directly influence policy today. Sure, your congress people, state legislators and governor all represent you, but they also represent thousands of other constituents – not to mention the influence that lobbyists so strongly have. Referenda are one of the few ways in our representative government that the people directly vote on a particular issue.

Question 2 on the ballot is an expansion of the Bottle Bill passed in the 1980s. For those of you like me who have never heard of the Bottle Bill, it was a piece of legislation passed to put a five cent deposit on different kinds of bottles. Unfortunately, since the bill’s passage, other types of bottles, including water bottles, sports drinks and teas, have been produced, and they are not covered under the ‘80s bill. That’s where Question 2 comes in, expanding the bottle bill to cover all these other containers.

Why is it important to include these? Statistically speaking, roughly 80 percent of bottles covered under the Bottle Bill end up getting recycled. Today, only about 23 percent of bottles without the five-cent deposit get recycled. Putting the deposit on the bottles incentivizes consumers to recycle containers, and thus increases recycling.

Picture Minuteman Way after a tailgate, an ungodly amount of water bottles and sports drinks covering the pavement. Or, how many sports fields or parks have you been to that have been lined with water and Gatorade bottles? Voting yes would combat the amount of litter in our beautiful parks and public spaces.

One usual critique of an expansion of environmental policy is the question of cost. In this case, the expansion of the bottle bill could save municipalities up to $7 million per year (according to a 2009 study done by the Department of Environmental Protection) on litter cleanup and trash disposal costs.

Question 2 also says the five-cent deposit, if not claimed by the consumer, will be put toward funding the expansion of other environmental programs across the states, further expanding environmental protection.

The strongest opposition to the “Yes on 2” campaign has come from large corporations, including Big Y, Stop & Shop, Nestle and the American Beverage Association dominated by Coca Cola and Pepsi.

Collectively, they have spent over $8.3 million on TV and radio ads to sway you against voting for the Bottle Bill. These bottling giants have for too long stalled environmental protection legislation like Question 2. Voting yes on 2 is also about limiting big business’ influence on our state house.

This is a rare opportunity for us to directly support environmental protection. We have the power to combat big business’s influence and take a stand about keeping big business out of politics. Put that power to use and vote yes on 2.

Joel Spiegel can be reached at [email protected]