Assembly Passes Bigger Better Bottle Bill

Measure would modernize and expand historic recycling law
June 21, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced the Assembly passed legislation to expand New York’s beverage container deposit and recycling programs (A.2517-B). Mr. Cahill, a staunch supporter and co-sponsor of the measure introduced by Assemblymember Tom DiNapoli of Long Island, played a key role in rallying support for the bill as it made its way through the Assembly.

The legislation would expand the current bottle bill to include a 5 cent deposit on non-carbonated beverages such as sports drinks, tea and bottled water. It would also turn over unclaimed deposits, which are currently kept by distributors and bottlers, to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.

"The bottle deposit law has been one of the most important and successful environmental measures ever enacted in New York State," said Assemblymember Cahill. "When the law was originally passed the authors could not have envisioned such a rise in popularity in beverages like sports drinks, teas and bottle water. This bill simply updates the law to include these containers, creating a proven incentive to help remove them from our waste stream, roadways and parks."

The Department of Environmental Conservation estimates at least $85 million in deposits go unclaimed each year. The Container Recycling Institute estimates that unclaimed deposits in New York State actually total $137 million and that an expanded bottle bill would increase this figure to $179 million. These monies would be deposited in the Environmental Protection Fund for projects across the state.

"Directing the unclaimed deposits into the Environmental Protection Fund will add a level of accountability that was non-existent when the proceeds were going to the beverage industry," Assemblymember Cahill noted. "The millions of dollars generated would create a steady revenue stream that will be dedicated to improving and developing new and innovative recycling systems across the state."

A Senate version of the bill (S.1290-B) awaits action in that house. "I urge the Senate to join us in modernizing this important environmental initiative before the Legislature leaves Albany," Mr. Cahill concluded.