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February 16, 2010

Albany Times-Union
Letter to the Editor

New bottle law boosts revenue

John Noppa's Feb. 12 letter, "Are taxes about money or choice?" reflects a basic misunderstanding about the updates to New York's bottle bill that went into effect last year.

Since 1982, the bottle bill has been New York's most successful recycling and litter prevention program and has enjoyed broad public support. Last year, Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature expanded the law to include bottled water, which represents about a quarter of today's beverage market. This will significantly boost recycling rates and reduce litter in our communities.

In addition, they closed a loophole in the law that had allowed beverage companies to pocket billions of dollars in unclaimed nickel deposits since the law went into effect. Technically, this money is abandoned public property. But it took nearly 20 years for state lawmakers to actually reclaim it. Now, beverage companies are required to transfer 80 percent of the unclaimed deposits to the state, which is expected to generate more than $115 million a year in new revenue.

When people purchase beer, soda and water in New York, they are required to pay a 5-cent deposit on each container. But it remains their choice whether to return their empties for a refund. The only difference now is that if they choose not to, the state will get most of that money, instead of the beverage companies.

The updated bottle bill will significantly improve our environment and generate revenue for state programs and services. There is no contradiction.


Senior Environmental Associate, NYPIRG



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