November 10, 2010
Bottle money pouring into State fund
It has been one year since the New York deposit law was expanded to include bottled water, and the results have been hailed as a success, according to recycling advocates.
The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and the Container Recycling Institute extolled the updated Returnable Beverage Container Act, also known as the “bottle bill.” The bill was expanded last October 31 to include bottled water to the list of containers surcharged with a refundable 5-cent deposit.
The bill expansion also changed how beverage companies handle unclaimed deposits. Prior to the new expansion beverage companies were able to keep all unclaimed deposits, but now 80 percent of the unclaimed deposits go to the state's general fund. This has raised over $120 million in new revenue.
“Since the bill first went into effect in 1982, that’s more than $2 billion that the state could have collected,” said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG.
The expanded bill, which now includes nearly 90 percent of beverage containers sold in New York, dramatically increased the recycling rate for the 3.2 million bottles of water that are sold each year in the state. Prior to the new bill, fewer than 20 percent of bottled waters were getting recycled.
As a result of recycling expansion, over 240 new redemption centers have opened up in the past two years.
“We knew there would be growth in redemption centers, but had no idea it would be so large,” said Haight. “It’s quite amazing and all these new centers mean more jobs that are available in the community.”
New York has not yet collected the annual survey data on beverage container sales and redemption for the period since the new bill went into effect, but it is expected that close to 50 percent of water bottles will have been recycled during the first year of the bill.
According to a NYPIRG survey, there has been widespread compliance with the new law making the transition with bottled water relatively easy. Ninety-three percent of retailers accepted water back for redemption and three-fourths of stores only sold properly labeled water. The only issue was the lack of stores that posted signage telling customers of the new law.