Brewster Voters To Consider Banning Nip Bottles

By: Bronwen Walsh

Topics: Recycling and Solid Waste

A discarded nip bottle. FILE PHOTO

BREWSTER – Meg Morris, chair of the town’s recycling commission, called nip bottles “a littering epidemic” and plans to ask spring town meeting voters to prohibit the sale of tiny liquor containers.

Upon opening the spring town meeting warrant Monday, the Brewster Select Board asked Morris to draft an article that would prohibit the sale of nips in town.

“It's a quick drink…used mainly for drinking and driving,” Morris said. “You can just quickly get rid of the evidence. I think we need to be concerned about the number of folks who are actually buying these nips in the middle of the day and drinking and driving.” Most nip bottles are made from non-recyclable plastic; less than 1 percent are glass, and the empties are major contributors of roadside trash, she said. In addition, smuggling nips into a bar or restaurant constitutes short-changing the business owners.

Recycling commission volunteers documented picking up roughly 1,000 nips in 2019, Morris testified. By 2021, “we collected 3,376 nips, or about 1,680 per year. In

2022, we collected 2,767. These are just the nips that our wonderful volunteers pick up.”
In 2018, Chelsea became the first town in the state to ban nip sales. Since then, the towns of Mashpee, Falmouth, Wareham, Newton and Nantucket have followed suit.

Should the article win passage, a ban on nip sales in Brewster could take effect on Dec. 31.

“It can be done because we’ve done it with (plastic) water bottles,” Morris said. “We’re trying to be realistic,” so the effective date remains to be determined. Eight liquor retailers in town would be affected, she added.

“I hear frequent complaints about nip bottles in town,” said select board member Mary Chaffee. “Kudos to the recycling commission for gathering data. We really do have a nip bottle trash problem here.”

Vice Chairman Ned Chatelain said he supports a nips ban, calling it “a slam-dunk from the perspective of a spring town meeting.” He also urged the town to hold a public hearing on the matter to inform residents of the board’s reasoning and endorsement.

Said Chairman David Whitney, “I, too, participate in Beautify Brewster. We find a vast majority of (empty) nips right next to the liquor stores. There’s a lot more nips out there than what we are counting.”

Since the deadline for the spring town meeting warrant is Feb. 15, Town Manager Peter Lombardi tentatively scheduled the matter for public hearing on Monday, Feb. 13. Meanwhile, he said, the town will reach out to license holders, and health and public safety officials.