A step closer to nipping this problem?

Nips continue to be a huge issue on the Island, but several local businesses are offering incentives to get them picked up and recycled. — Lara O'Brien

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy heard testimony Tuesday on a proposed change to the bottle bill to add a 5 cent deposit on nip bottles.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Randy Hunt, R-Sandwich, but has several co-sponsors, including Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Sen. Julian Cyr, who represent Martha’s Vineyard in the House and Senate.

Several groups spoke in favor of the bill, and provided thousands of signatures supporting it, Rep. Hunt said. There was no testimony in opposition, though there were groups who oppose the bottle bill in general, he said. “I’m hoping the committee will report out favorably on the bill,” Rep. Hunt said.

Nips have been an Island scourge, and in recent months, businesses have offered incentives to have the empties picked up from roadsides and parking lots.

“Right now, there’s a big incentive for people to just chuck them when they’re done,” Rep. Hunt said, noting there’s no value in returning them and, perhaps, problems if they remain in a vehicle. The proposal would give people incentive to turn them in with other bottles and cans at redemption centers, and provide incentive for those who already clean up litter to collect the nip bottles as well, he said.

As a positive side note, the debate has sparked conversations about drunk driving, underage drinking, and the display of nips in liquor stores, Rep. Hunt said.