February 27, 2008
NYC Drowning in Non-Carbonated Beverage Containers
By Evan Mantyk
NEW YORK—A study published this month found that most of the beverage containers littering New York City's streets were non-refundable containers for non-carbonated drinks. The study, conducted by the New York Public Interest Research Group, recommends extending the 5-cent deposit from carbonated drink containers to non-carbonated drinks, such as bottled water, juice, and sports drinks.
"Expanding the state's Bottle Bill to include non-carbonated beverages would significantly reduce the number of bottles and cans that end up as litter in our neighborhoods, on our beaches, in our parks, and along our waterways and highways," says the study's summary.
Even though non-carbonated beverages make up less than 30 percent of the U.S. beverage market, containers from these products accounted for 61 percent of the beverage container litter, and 21 percent of the total litter volume, according to the study.
"Curbside programs are best at capturing recyclables such as soup cans and other products that are typically consumed within the home, but beverage containers pose a different challenge. The deposit system is the most effective way to capture beverage containers because they are typically consumed 'on the go' and disposed of away from home," says the study.
According to a 2002 report, the ten states that have various deposit systems recovered beverage containers 2.5 times more effectively than states without deposits.
It is highly unlikely that the authors of New York's original Bottle Bill knew that 25 years later, bottled water and other noncarbonated drinks would become so popular.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, bottled water sales have risen more than ten times in the last decade alone. At the current rate of growth, the Container Recycling Institute projects that sales of non-carbonated beverages will surpass soda sales by 2011.
"In the last 25 years consumer habits have changed, and we must adapt our laws to reflect these changes. These trends will likely become more prevalent with every passing year that New York State fails to modernize its beverage container deposit system," says the study.
The New York Public Interest Group study, taken in October and November of last year, included surveys of a variety of locations, including beaches, college campuses, urban neighborhoods, and parks.