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Long Islanders seek expanding bottle deposit law

ALBANY - When Clair Pertalion runs along the beach in Montauk in the morning, she notices the garbage that collects on the shore - mainly water bottles.

Pertalion believes that expanding the state's bottle deposit law to include noncarbonated beverages would make the beaches cleaner. She admitted she collected bottles for the money as a child, and said many people on Eastern Long Island still do.

To further that effort, Pertalion and dozens of environmental activists from the Surfrider Foundation, a global nonprofit group with chapters across Long Island, came here this week to urge legislators to pass the Bigger Better Bottle Bill.

The measure would require nickel deposits like those currently on soda bottles, bottled water, tea and sports drinks.

"Too many bottles are not covered by the current deposit law," said Chris Wade, a Rockaway Beach resident. "These bottles are fouling New York's beautiful oceans, waves and beaches."

The foundation asserts that the legislation would create financial incentives for recycling, thus reducing the litter. The expanded legislation could also encourage people to redeem more bottles, thus reducing chances that the water bottles would end up in the waterways.

It was included in Gov. Eliot Spitzer's recent budget plan and in last year's proposal as well, but did not make it through Legislative negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) was a vocal opponent of the expansion last year, calling it an "additional tax" on New Yorkers. Bruno also voted against the original bottle bill 26 years ago.

Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), author of the bill, which will be decided by April 1, said: "The arguments that you hear against the Bigger Better Bottle Bill are almost identical to the arguments that were made against the original bottle bill. But we all know how well the original bottle bill has helped clean up the parks and beaches and roads."


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