June 13, 2008
Bigger, better bottle bill
MANLIUS, N.Y. - On Wednesday the New York State Assembly passed a measure that would update the current redemption law. If the Senate approves it, water bottles and other non-redeemables would be worth a nickel. One local redemption center that says if the Senate doesn't pass the bill, they will have to shut down.
Day in and day out, Keith Alexander sifts through bottles and cans, shelling out a nickel for each. And day in and day out, he continues to get non-redeemable plastics.
They go into his recycling bin and are carted off once a week. He gets nothing for them, but he sure would like to. Especially because bottled water is consumed by so many people.
"Now water is outselling beer. Over the last several years it's just been increasing and increasing," said Alexander.
Alexander says he gets two cents per bottle or can from distributors. And he says with increases in minimum wage, workers compensation, medical insurance and energy costs it's tough to make ends meet. Making water bottles just as redeemable as soda bottles would keep him in business.
For customers like Joe Perrone, a new bottle return law that includes water bottles would definitely put more money in his pocket.
"Four kids, we drink a lot of water," said Perrone.
The same holds true for Dan Cerio. He brought a few bags in but he'll walk back out with this one filled with non-redeemables.
"I just figured they were plastic and I could bring them here," said Cerio.
Alexander said it's not brain surgery and as far as he's concerned, the only difference between a redeemable bottle and a non- redeemable bottle is the outdated handling fee.
"We are on the verge of closing. Every week it's a rush to the bank with a check because we have to have money to buy cans. And that's basically what we do. We buy cans and package them up and resell them back to the distributor," Alexander said.
Alexander is asking people to contact their local senator or Senator Joseph Bruno himself, before they break for the summer.
The new law would also turn over unclaimed deposits, which are currently kept by distributors and bottlers, to the state's Environmental Protection Fund.