August 14, 2009
For Immediate Release:
Laura Haight, NYPIRG, 518-436-0876 x258
Sheila Rivers, Bottle and Can Redemption Association, 585-749-0625
BOTTLE BILL UPDATES BACK ON TRACK
Groups Hail Federal Judge’s Decision to Lift Injunction
Environmentalists and small businesses applauded a decision issued last night by Federal District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts that will allow most provisions of the “Bigger Better Bottle Bill” to go into effect immediately, and the bottled water expansion to take place in October.
In April, lawmakers updated New York’s Bottle Bill as part of the state budget for FY 2009-2010. However, a lawsuit filed by the bottled water industry resulted in a court order delaying implementation of the amendments until April 1st, 2010 and removing one of the new labeling requirements. The State, represented by the Attorney General’s office, asked the court to modify its decision, which went well beyond those provisions of the new law that the bottled water companies had challenged.
Judge Batts’ order means that:
- the state can start collecting 80% of the unclaimed deposits on beverage containers covered under the law
- the handling fee increase will now go into effect, raising the compensation to stores and redemption centers from 2 cents to 3.5 cents for each container they recycle
- the expansion of the law to include bottled water will likely take place on October 22
In addition, Judge Batts permanently enjoined the New York State-specific UPC labeling code requirements from going into effect, which many businesses complained about as being unduly onerous and the bottled water lawsuit challenged as unconstitutional.
While the order gives bottled water companies a court date of October 22nd to show that they might need more time to comply, the decision notes that Nestles had already said it could comply by October 1st, 2009, which is when Connecticut’s bottled water expansion goes into effect. The decision stated that “it is the Court’s expectation that Plaintiffs…are actively working to achieve compliance with all aspects of the Bottle Bill.”
“This decision is more refreshing than an ice-cold beverage on a hot summer day,” said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG. “We are delighted that justice has been served. The Bigger Better Bottle Bill can now move forward with its promise of making our communities cleaner and healthier, creating new green jobs, and generating new revenue for New York.”
“Judge's Batts’ decision has saved hundreds of primarily family-owned small businesses from folding, saving thousands of jobs in the process.” said Sheila Rivers, owner of EZ Bottle and Can Returns in Monroe County and chair of the NYS Bottle and Can Redemption Association (BACRA). “Without the handling fee increase, many of our redemption centers were on the verge of collapse.”
The groups praised the Attorney General’s office for its handling of the case.