Bottle Bill Will Cut Down On Waste
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D-Flatbush) announced the Assembly passed legislation she co-sponsored to expand New York's beverage container deposit and recycling programs (A.8044-A).
The "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" would expand the current law to include a 5-cent deposit on non-carbonated beverages such as sports drinks, juices and bottled water - products that have become extremely popular since New York's bottle deposit law was first instituted in 1982 and have significantly contributed to waste and litter.
"Times have changed since the early 1980s, and the bottle bill needs to be updated," said Jacobs. "The prevalence of water, sports drink and iced tea bottles have made the existing law less effective, as our roadways and public spaces continue to be littered with discarded containers. By expanding the law, we will provide a financial incentive to recycle these items."
According to Department of Environmental Conservation, since the inception of the 5-cent refundable deposit over a quarter century ago, more than 90 billion bottles and cans - or 6 million tons of glass, plastic and metal - have been returned and recycled in New York State. However, under the current law, more than 3 billion bottles and cans end up in the trash or as litter each year simply because they contained beverages that were not carbonated.1
"It doesn't make sense that certain containers aren't being recycled simply because they contained water or iced tea as opposed to soda or beer," Jacobs said. "It would be irresponsible to not expand the current law now that we have a better understanding of the importance of recycling in the protection of the environment."
According to Jacobs, DEC research also indicates that including the plastic bottles from water and sports drinks in the state's recycling program would save roughly 1 million barrels of crude oil and 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Assistant Speaker Jacobs also noted that the new bill would require unclaimed deposits, which are currently kept by distributors and bottlers, to be deposited in the Environmental Protection Fund for projects across the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that expanding the bottle bill will result in at least $100 million annually for the EPF. Data from the Container Recycling Institute have led the Assembly to estimate that revenues from the expanded authorization could reach $195 million once the bill is fully implemented.
"Not only will this bill reduce waste directly, but it will contribute millions of dollars to the Environmental Protection Fund without raising taxes. This bill offers a common-sense solution to litter and environmental protection, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate and the governor to make this bill law to help keep New York clean and litter-free," concluded Jacobs.
1. Department of Environmental Conservation, http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8500.html (accessed June 9, 2008).