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March 2, 2009

The New York Times
Letter to the Editor

New York’s Bottle Bill

Re “Nickels to Clean New York” (editorial, Feb. 26):

Support for New York’s proposed Bigger Better Bottle Bill reveals failure to understand the “handling fee” required by our Returnable Beverage Container Law now.

When consumers who paid a 5-cent deposit for each beer or soda they bought do not return the empty containers, they lose their nickels. But when they do return the empties, obtaining their deposit refund, what happens next is not well known. Retailers return the containers to their wholesalers, obtaining payment by the wholesalers of 7 cents each (5-cent returned deposit plus mandated 2-cent handling fee).

If a new payee — the State of New York — seizes unredeemed nickel deposits while still requiring wholesalers to pay 7 cents for each returned container, much of the cost will be passed along as a hidden tax on everybody, including consumers who always carefully return their empty containers.

J. Henry Neale Jr.
Scarsdale, N.Y., Feb. 26, 2009

The writer was a member of the Temporary State Commission on Returnable Beverage Containers, 1983-85.


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