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March 5, 2007


Expand bottle law
End the tired debate, and pass measure for environment's sake

For years, this page has said it's time to expand the outdated bottle-redemption law to include noncarbonated containers that lawmakers didn't allot for 25 years ago.

The issue is up for debate again this year, with as many as 50 groups set to lobby in favor or against. The issue is tired and deserves closure.

The difference this year is the current political climate. Gov. Spitzer has included the expanded bill in his budget, which calls for beverage companies to transfer all unclaimed deposits to the state's Environmental Protection Fund. And Democrats, who control the Assembly and are in greater number in the Senate, have traditionally supported such an expansion.

The time couldn't be better to finally get a bigger, more improved bottle bill passed into law.

Despite what its critics say, the issue is an environmental one. The purpose of the original 1982 law was to recapture more plastic and metal for recycling. It's only logical that concept would be applied to all of the water bottles, juice containers and sports drinks that have become so prevalent in recent years.

The impact is significant. More bottles mean less litter, and less nonbiodegradable items crowding landfills. It's thought that updating the bill would ensure that 2 billion noncarbonated bottles would be recycled.

Some people will recycle on their own, but a 5-cent incentive is a smart way of avoiding the environmental hazards that improperly disposed bottles pose.

Also relevant is the estimated $85 million that beverage companies receive from unclaimed deposits. Under Spitzer's proposal, that money would go to help fund other environmental programs.

Lawmakers know what's at stake. For the sake of the environment and common sense, the expanded bottle bill should finally be passed.


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