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June 23, 2008

Times Union
Letter to the Editor

Paterson, don't let Senate douse bottle bill again

Steve Barnes' June 12 column, "Politics of bottled water now on the table," spotlights the environmental impacts of bottled water. All those plastic water bottles are made from petroleum, and once our thirst has been quenched, the vast majority end up in landfills, incinerators or polluting our rivers, parks and neighborhoods.

While restaurants and stores may be reluctant to stop selling bottled water, there is a measure pending in Albany that would dramatically reduce the number of bottles and cans that end up in the waste stream.

The proposed "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" (A.8044-A/S.5850-A) would update New York's 5-cent container deposit law to include bottled water, iced tea, sports drinks and other noncarbonated beverages.

There is no question that this measure would increase recycling and reduce litter. Recycling rates for beer and soda containers, which have a 5-cent deposit, are four to five times higher than for water bottles and other nondeposit containers.

The Assembly has passed the bill for the third time since 2005. Gov. Paterson has called this bill one of his top environmental priorities for this session. But with the Legislature scheduled to adjourn today, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is likely to sit out the clock and once again keep this bill from moving forward.

We all have a responsibility to keep our communities clean and healthy. But each year the Senate refuses to update the bottle bill, another 3 billion bottles and cans end up in the trash or littering our communities.

Gov. Paterson should not let the Legislature leave Albany without demanding an open debate on this issue. Passage of this bill would be a huge victory for our environment. I'd drink to that.


Senior Environmental Associate

New York Public Interest Research Group



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