October 6, 2009
Bottled water price hike coming
More plastic water bottles will be recycled when a deposit likely gets tacked on later this month. Despite a shift to a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of water bottles, consumers and business owners give the pending mandatory deposit mixed reviews.
“It’s terrible,” said Ron Anania, owner of Geneva Club Beverage Co. Inc., a beverage distributor in Geneva. “It will make the cost of doing business a lot (higher),” he said. As a distributor, he will have to pay a handling fee of 3.5 cents per bottle, he said.
For consumers, the required nickel deposit plus handling fee will raise retail prices more than $2 for a 24-pack of water, including grocery generic brands, according to James Rogers, president of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State.
Over at Case’s Convenient Mart on County Road 28 in Canandaigua, owner Jodee Case-Rizzo is also unhappy with the deposit. From a business point of view, it will involve increased labor and time to have employees count and sort bottles, she said, a task she may do herself. While big stores have machines for such work, added Case-Rizzo, that is not the case with the small mom-and-pops.
The deposit was signed into law in April. A federal injunction blocked the law this summer, though U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts is expected to lift it after a hearing Oct. 22.
At the Company Store in Cheshire, owner Liza Stenzel said storage is another big issue for many small stores facing bottle deposits for water. She is fortunate to have a building out back for storage, she said. “I feel sorry for those without storage space,” she added.
Linda Mullen, who works at the store, buys bottled water and is stocking up in preparation for the expected raise in price. She buys water by the case, she said, to use at a family cottage that doesn’t have drinkable water. At an increase of more than $2 for each 24-pack, she said, she wants to save money by buying now.
Nearly 2.5 billion water bottles are sold annually statewide.
“Water is about 25 percent of the overall beverage market,” said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “With the expansion, we’re capturing about 90 percent of the beverages we believe should have deposits on them.”
Earlier state laws required deposits on soda and other carbonated beverages, wine coolers and beer, with a study showing they raised aluminum can recycling from less than 20 percent to more than 80 percent.
Kelsy Baker of Naples, a recent graduate of Nazareth College in Pittsford, said she thinks the water-bottle deposit is a good idea. “It will encourage recycling,” said Baker, who works at Bob & Irv’s Shurfine in Naples. At college, she and other students were diligent about recycling, she said — but out in the community you don’t see that as much, she said. She sees the water-bottle deposit giving people the incentive they need to not throw the bottles in the trash.
Steve Bradford, of Bradford and Sons, a business on County Road 16 that does water treatments, among other services, looks at the issue from another angle. He thinks the deposit may get the occasional water-bottle buyer to think twice before buying. At the same time, for those who want to consistently drink water free of chlorine and possible impurities, he said, it might prompt them to install a water-treatment system.
Though he’s not banking on it, he wouldn’t be surprised, he said.
Having a water-treatment system “is a lot easier to deal with instead of buying those cases of water and lugging those big jugs,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.