Albany, June 22, 2005
Letter to the Editor
Stronger bottle bill would benefit New York
The Assembly should be commended for passing a bill that would make the state's successful returnable container law even stronger than it is today. Now it's time for the Senate to act on this important bill.
The bottle bill has made the state's streets cleaner, its playgrounds safer and its communities more livable. But that's not all. It has been equally effective as a recycling program, keeping more than 5 million tons of valuable scrap materials out of landfills and supplying feedstocks to the state's recycling businesses.
The Assembly correctly reasoned that if there's a refundable nickel deposit on a plastic Pepsi soda bottle, then an identical plastic Aquafina bottle, also produced by PepsiCo, should have a deposit too. The only reason bottled water and many other noncarbonated beverages weren't included in the original law is that they were virtually nonexistent 23 years ago. Today, more than 2 billion of them are not covered by the state's bottle bill, and many end up trashed.
Despite the bottle bill's unparalleled success, Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, has introduced a bill that would repeal the bottle bill and replace it with a New Jersey-style litter tax. This tax on "litter-generating products" sold in New York would generate about $25 million a year. A large portion of that $25 million would be used to clean up litter -- an approach that's much like mopping up the floor while the toilet is overflowing.
The Di Napoli-LaValle bill, passed by the Assembly, would not only expand the bottle bill to include non-carbonated beverages, it would put an estimated $130 million in unredeemed deposits (nickels not redeemed by consumers) to good use. This money currently goes into the pockets of bottlers and distributors. Under the expanded bottle bill, it would be redirected to the state for recycling and other environmental programs.
Hopefully the Senate will say "yes" to update the bottle bill, and "no" to the litter tax proposal that would repeal the state's popular and effective bottle bill.
Container Recycling Institute