Edgartown considered a proposed ban on 50mL bottles, popularly known as nips, at its select board meeting on Monday.

The miniature liquor bottles have come under scrutiny across Massachusetts and across the Island as lawmakers argue they pose a littering problem. Oak Bluffs recently discussed the issue in a select board meeting earlier this month. Just across the water, the town of Falmouth voted to ban nips in October 2021, and Nantucket followed with a ban in 2022.

Brion McGroarty, owner of MV Wine & Spirits, entreated the select board to explore other options to discourage littering on the Island.

The state’s bottle redemption program, which has been in effect since the “bottle bill” of 1983, currently offers $0.05 for every bottle returned to a redemption center to be recycled. Of the 12 states that have implemented bottle redemption programs, Mr. McGroarty said, Massachusetts has one of the lowest participation rates. He went on to cite a report from the Container Recycling Institute, which found that just 38 per cent of bottles eligible for redemption were redeemed last year, down from 50 per cent in 2019.

“A nickel used to be worth something,” Mr. McGroarty said. “There’s no value to the stuff that people are throwing on the street.”

Nips do not currently fall under the redemption category but last February state lawmakers filed a “better bottle bill” proposing to increase the return rate from $0.05 to $0.10 and expand the types of beverage containers eligible for redemption. If passed, nips, along with water bottles, vitamin drinks and other non-carbonated beverage bottles would become eligible for redemption.

Mr. McGroarty said he sees initiatives like these as integral to the mission to reduce littering and encouraged the select board to share their support.

“I want to support the ban on nips, but I’d like to ask if you could at least consider or debate to ask the state legislators to come to grips with the 40-year-old bottle bill that has fallen by the wayside,” Mr. McGroarty said. “Then people would be redeeming them and not throwing them on the side of the road.”

Select board member Arthur Smadbeck agreed and said that the board would write to lawmakers requesting an increase. The town has not yet made a decision on the proposed 50mL bottle ban.

In other trash-related business, the select board reviewed a letter sent by resident Jim Oakes complaining of increased litter and traffic from the VTA bus that stops near his home on Oakdale Drive. Mr. Smadbeck said he had called the VTA for more information and found that while there is no official bus stop on that street, many riders still request stops in that area.

“Because it’s a de facto bus stop, [we should] think about putting a trash barrel over there,” Mr. Smadbeck said, noting that the board would need to check the regulations on a state-owned road. “It’s a problem and this citizen has been kind enough to be picking up the trash to this point.”