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November 14, 2009

The Daily Star

Finally _ bottle bill expansion in effect

Every now and then, it seems the state actually listens to what the people are saying.

Back in May, we wrote about our mixed feelings regarding New York state's new bottle bill.

While we were OK with the idea of putting deposits on bottled water, we weren't thrilled by the idea that state-specific bar codes would have to be appended to all beverages sold in New York.

The bottle bill went into effect at the end of October, minus the state-specific bar codes.

Elected officials and lobbyists went to work stripping this onerous piece of legislation from the bill almost as soon as it was passed.

What was left was the 5-cent deposit that is now being charged on bottled water _ which doesn't sound so bad to us.

We know the new law will mean extra work for some retailers, who may find themselves facing a larger volume of bottle returns.

However, given how many times this legislation was delayed, we feel that everyone has had ample time to prepare for collecting water bottles in addition to the beer cans and soda bottles they already take in.

"It will be a lot of extra work," said "The Can Man," Jim Hoffman, of the Oneonta Redemption Center, last week but Hoffman said last week that he was ready for the switch.

It's hard to argue with the logic of the bottle bill.

The first one in the nation was introduced in Oregon in 1971 as a way to reduce litter. By most accounts, it worked in Oregon, just as it has worked in New York and other states.

But bottle bills crafted in the 1970s and '80s were specific to the products that littered the roadsides at that time: beer and soda.

Bottled water has become so popular and omnipresent that it only makes sense to incorporate it into the law that has helped keep so much trash out of landfills and landscapes.

Of course, the bottle bill is not a cure-all. The prevalence of plastic as a packaging material for consumer goods is still an issue of concern for many.

Earlier this year, German scientists released a study suggesting that PET plastics, which are used for water bottles and other products, may leach harmful chemicals into the water.

We still have a lot to learn about how plastics interact with our environment.

In the meantime, we have a renewed incentive to recycle these products by claiming our 5-cent deposit on water bottles.


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