It took several years for supporters to get a bottle bill passed in Massachusetts. Opposition came mostly from the food and beverage people who predicted the end of life as we know it, and from conservatives, who generally oppose anything that might be a good idea.

Life has gone on nicely. The landfills are no longer filling up with discarded bottles and cans. The roadsides are no longer decorated with cast-off containers.

What a difference a couple of decades make. Now, the only opponents continue to be the food and beverage people, and they’re pretty much whining in the wilderness.

The proposal now before the legislature would expand coverage to sports drinks, fruit drinks, water and few other things. They should have been included in the first instance. Being left off was mostly a compromise to build up support.

The industry calls the present system “deeply flawed” – one statement described people sneaking across state lines to NH to buy a soda without paying a deposit, and then redeeming it here, all for the profit of a nickel. The argument is ridiculous on the face of it.

At a nickel per can, someone would have to drive to NH, buy three cases of soda in that state, drive back, and try to redeem them here, just to pay for a gallon of gas. Not to mention the time and effort.

So, let’s hope the legislature forgets about casinos just long enough to pass this expansion bill.

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