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June 12, 2006

Proponents won’t give up on bottle bill
Bruno won’t budge

An alliance of environmental, consumer and community groups urged the Senate last week to pass the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill before the legislative session ends.

The bill (A.2517D/S.1290D) updates the existing bottle bill to include non-carbonated beverages such as water and sports drinks in the deposit system. The bill passed the Assembly in May, but has stalled in the Senate because Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, refuses to allow it on to the floor for a vote.

“An expanded bottle bill would be nothing more than a tax increase on New Yorkers,” Bruno spokesman Mark Hansen said previously.

Hansen said curbside recycling programs are effective, and the stores that accept returned recyclables wouldn’t be able to handle the excess trash.

But Donna Giliberto, general counsel to the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, said, “It’s time for the Legislature to catch up with lifestyles.” She was referring to the increased popularity of non-carbonated beverages over the last two decades.

Environmentalists are concerned that not extending the 5-cent deposit to include non-carbonated beverages decreases those containers’ chances of being recycled and increases the instances of them becoming litter.

“When we talk about litter on the roadways, in Upstate New York it becomes litter in the farm fields,” said Jeff Williams, legislative director of the New York Farm Bureau.

According to Jennifer Gitlitz, research director for the Container Recycling Institute, almost 80 percent of carbonated beverage containers in New York get recycled — about 70 percent are returned, and the other 10 percent are collected through curbside recycling programs. Many communities across the state, however, don’t have curbside recycling, which increases the need to extend the law, according to proponents of the bill.

The original bottle bill, which passed in 1982, did not include non-carbonated beverages because they were not popular at the time. Today they make up 25 percent of the industry, according to the Container Recycling Institute.


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