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Mass. moves to raise fee on bottlers

After losing battles with the Legislature in recent years to expand the state’s bottle ­redemption law to cover more products, the Patrick administration is turning its attention to the fees charged to bottlers to fund redemption centers.

Through regulation, the admin­istration has proposed to increase by 1 cent per container the handling fee charged to bottle distributors when containers are returned by consumers. The fee, which has not been increased in 23 years, is used to fund redemption centers, and state officials say the policy will boost recycling rates and help keep ­redemption centers in business.

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Bottlers and wholesalers ­argue that increasing the fee from 2.25 cents to 3.25 cents per bottle will cost drink distributors as much $14 million a year, threatening jobs and costing consumers more for groceries as the fee increase gets passed on to shoppers.

The Executive Office of ­Energy and Environmental ­Affairs plans a public hearing on the proposed changes on Wednesday and has been collecting written comments and testimony since Feb. 1.

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