May 28, 2008
Some Push Expansion of State Bottle Bill
ROCHESTER, NY (2008-05-28) Advocates for an expanded bottle bill rallied at Cobbs Hill Park Wednesday, to encourage state lawmakers to add a five cent deposit to juice and water bottles. Currently only carbonated beverages have a deposit, but the Governor and Assembly support legislation to change that.
Patrick Hooker, the state agriculture commissioner, is also supporting the change. He told the rally that farm land will be preserved using deposit funds that are unclaimed, when people don't return their bottles, under an expanded bottle bill.
"The bottle bill makes complete sense to do. We have a whole series of bottles that didn't exist 25 years ago. It's very logical that we update the bottle bill. That said, citizens, businesses can have concerns about it, and what Governor Paterson has said is 'come in, talk to me about', but the greater good is to get this done."
But John Pierce, a spokesperson for the coalition of groups - including grocery stores - opposing expanding the bottle bill, calls deposits "a hidden tax." He says that currently, unclaimed deposits pay for stores' costs of collecting and storing bottles. But the new bill will turn unclaimed deposits back over to the state Environmental Protection Fund, and he says that means that stores will have to raise the cost of items with a deposit, in addition to the five cent fee.
"The proposal that Governor Paterson endorses, he said he supports becaues it raises money for the state of New YOrk ... these are tough economic times for the state of New York. They're just as tough and even tougher economic times for people all over the state of New York, and we can't afford a tax on our food."
When the bottle bill was first passed 25 years ago, non-carbonated beverages made up a small percentage of bottles sold, but now they're a much bigger part of the market. Advocates for an expanded bottle bill want to prevent those bottles from ending up in landfills, or as litter, by putting a price on their head.
Pierce says deposits don't increase recycling, because to recycle items with deposits, and get their money back, consumers have to take an extra trip. He says that the expansion of the bill is a ploy to line state coffers.