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February 25, 2007

Capital News 9

Boosting the Bigger Better Bottle Bill
By: Ken Jubie

Returning a big bag of soda and beer bottles is a chore most of us are accustomed to. Bigger Better Bottle Bill boosters want the current bottle law updated, putting deposits on drinks including bottled water, teas, and sports drinks.

"It recognizes the fact that people's consumption habits have changed. When this bill was passed 25 years ago, people were drinking pop. They were drinking carbonated sodas," said DEC Research Scientist Stanley Byer.

Steve Breyman
Steve Breyman
"It makes sense that you're going to update your container deposit law to reflect what New Yorkers are actually drinking, and we found actually failing to recycle," said Bigger Better Bottle Bill supporter Steve Breyman.

According to NYPIRG, less than 20 percent of non-carbonated beverages get recycled, which is a far cry from the recycling rate of their carbonated counterparts.

"80 percent of the beer and soda containers do get returned and recycled," said NYPIRG Environmental Associate Laura Haight.

Supporters of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill said giving that nickel back on beverages like bottled water and sports drinks will also be a benefit to the environment.

Laura Haight
Laura Haight
"Most people don't know this, but when they don't return their container, the beer and soda companies keep those nickels. Because of the volume, it's a lot of money. We're talking about $85 to $140 million a year," Haight said.

"That's not why I paid my nickel," said Averill Park resident Chris Shaw.

Advocates said under the new bill, unclaimed deposit dollars would be pumped into the state's Environmental Protection Fund for programs to preserve farm land and improve air and soil quality, among other things.

"Like recycling. Like dump closure. Like environmental remediation sites, et cetera," Byer said.

Rensselaer County community groups, agriculture advocates, and labor unions are now rallying together and petitioning their state senator, Joe Bruno, hoping the Majority Leader will give the nod to the new bottle bill.

Video available on Capital 9 Web site:

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