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May 30, 2009

News 10 Now

Ballyhoo over bigger, better bottle bill

NEW YORK STATE -- All these bottles are worth big bucks to some people, but to others, it's the legislative fight du jour.

"The New York Democrats jammed the bottle bill through. Ridiculously, they passed in April and thought it could be implemented by June," said State Senator Tom Libous, a Republican.

But that's all been put on hold at least for now.

"The court has put a hold on the implementation of the bottle bill, which was to have started June 1st and I think it will take at least two or three months for us to get this sorted out," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupado, a Democrat.

So what is the bigger, better bottle bill and what's made it such a hot issue? Essentially it just says that water bottles can now be returned for a five cent deposit. Before, just carbonated beverages.
First, the good news--according to Lupardo.

"Right now we want to reduce fraud, we also want to reduce litter, help the environment."

For all of the bill's intended benefits, it also had an unintended downside. Bottlers and manufacturers finally took the issue to court. And it was all over the Universal Product Code, also known as the UPC.

"I think it became clear that having a state-specific UPC code was going to become a manufacturing nightmare and a really difficult thing to enforce," said Lupardo.

Legislators wanted a special code so that bottles, for example, from Pennsylvania couldn't be dropped off for a deposit at New York redemption centers.

That way, can and bottle redemptions work is actually pretty complicated, but under the new bill, redemption center handling fees increase from two cents to 3.5 cents per can or bottle, an added cost for distributors.

"They don't like it, but it helps us a lot, it helps raise minimum wage, gets us more employees and raises the redemption rates and with the amount of money we're making. It lets us keep going," said Susan Dillenbeck, owner of the Johnson City-based redemption center Can Man.

The bill could be represented by the governor in a few weeks with several changes, both eco and commerce friendly.

Another sticking point on the bill has been a proposal to require 80 percent of unredeemed bottle redemption fees to go to the state. Previously, distributors got 100 percent.

Video at http://news10now.com/content/all_news/central_new_york/473316/ballyhoo-over-bigger--better-bottle-bill/

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