Bottle Bill Resource Guide

New York 2016

Assembly Bill 485

Bill Number and Name New York Assembly Bill 485– 
Beverage Container Deposit Implementation
Primary Sponsor Representative Englebright


01/06/2016 Carried over from 2015 and re-referred to Environmental Conservation Committee

Proposed Changes

Currently, the New York State Returnable Container Act enacts a beverage container deposit system that includes carbonated beverages and water without added sugar. This bill would add wine and liquor containers to the current legislation.

Beverages Added

  • Liquor
  • Wine

Deposits and Fees

Unredeemed deposits to be deposited into the Environmental Fund and the State Park Infrastructure Fund

Redemption System

Remains unchanged


Remains unchanged

2013 New York Budget Plan

In 2013, New York Governor Cuomo has introduced some budget proposals that affect the container deposit law.

According to, some proposed changes include:

  • Moving unclaimed deposit funds into the state Environmental Protection Fund
  • Widening an exemption that would allow certain smaller stores to only accept 72 returned cans per person each day. The limit for most stores is 240 cans per person, per day.
  • Allowing stores to reject containers that aren't "reasonably clean"
  • Increasing fines and penalties for abuse and fraud.

NYPIRG, New York's foremost advocacy organization in favor of the refund law, submitted testimony with its opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the governor's plan.

More information about possible changes to New York's deposit system will be added as it becomes available.

New York 2011 Bills

In addition to a bill to expand New York's deposit law, which has been introduced almost every year since 1995, this year also features a bill reducing the number of redemption centers required in stores, and another changing the requirements for beverage companies that use refillable bottles.

Refillables Bill

This bill would allow distributors of refillable bottles to keep all of the deposits on their unreturned containers rather than remitting 80% of them to the state as present law requires.

Bill Number and Name S 3496
Primary Sponsor Senator Grisanti
Containers Covered Refillable bottles



According to Laura Haight of NYPIRG:

This legislation is being pushed by Sam Adams, which claims to be the only beer company in NY truly dedicated to using refillable bottles. ...

This makes sense, because refillable bottles cost more to produce, and when they are not returned the bottler must replace them with new ones.  It is possible that this small incentive might encourage other bottlers to use refillable bottles in New York, esp. some of the microbreweries.  There are still some refillable soda bottles sold in New York as well, such as College Club Beverages in Rochester.


February 23, 2011: Referred to Environmental Conservation

March 8, 2011: Reported and committed to Finance



Expansion bill

Bill Number and Name A 3630
Sponsors Englebright
Beverages Covered Add fruit juices, ice tea beverages, milk, wine and liquor


This bill expands the deposit law to cover fruit juices, iced tea, milk, wine, and liquor. It also defines a beverage container as a container which can be refilled at least 25 times.

While the campaign to expand New York's deposit law has been ongoing for over a decade, a new development this year is the amendment of the state's solid waste plan to support the expansion effort. Specifically stated, "To support enhanced materials recovery and revenue generation, DEC will advance proposed legislation to expand the Returnable Container Law to include all beverage containers."1


January 26, 2011: Referred to environmental conservation 


RVM Bill

Bill Number and Name S 2877
Sponsors Sen. GRISANTI


Under New York's existing law, chain stores above 40,000 square feet are required to operate a certain number of reverse vending machines proportional to their size. This bill clarifies that only square footage dedicated to sales and display counts toward this requirement. It generally reduces the number of machines required for each size bracket. Also describes additional circumstances by which a store can be exempt from the requirement.


February 2, 2011: Referred to Environmental Conservation

March 8, 2011: Reported and committed to Commerce, Economic Development, and Small Business





1. Source: Excerpt from solid waste management plan. "10.1.4 Expand the Returnable Container Law." Courtesy of Laura Haight

The 2009 New York Campaign

Governor Paterson proposed including the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in the 2009 State Budget. Changes to the existing law are highlighted below.

On April 7, the updated bottle bill was passed, set to take effect June 1. However, the fight has dragged on for months as bottlers, redemption centers, and environmental leaders argued in court over the constitutionality of the law and other matters.

Bill Number and Name S59 and A159
Primary Sponsor Introduced by Governor David Paterson
Beverages Covered Adds water
Handling Fees Increased to 3.5¢
Unredeemed Deposits 80% to the state General Fund; 20% retained by distributor



Requires statewide chain retailers, with stores over 40,000 square feet, to install reverse vending machines.

To prevent people from collecting deposit refunds in New York for bottles they bought in neighboring states that did not charge a deposit, all New York deposit containers must have a separate UPC code.

Almost as soon as the bill was passed, industry groups set about writing amendments to the bill, which, if passed, would seriously limit the bill's effectiveness. To find out more about these bills and their potential damaging effects, see the letter that New York environmental groups have sent to their lawmakers.

Although the bill was set to come into effect on June first, bottled water companies fought against it in court, causing the implementation to be delayed. On August 13, 2009, a New York district judge ruled that all provisions of the bill should go into effect without delay, except the expansion to bottled water (delayed until October 22, by which time water companies would have to submit proof that they needed more time to comply) and the state-specific UPC code, which was enjoined indefinitely.

A summary of the changes was distributed to deposit initiators in late August to clarify their responsibilities.


January 7, 2009: A159 Introduced and referred to Ways and Means

March 31, 2009: Passed Assembly and referred to Senate

April 3, 2009: Passed Senate, returned to Assembly and delivered to Governor

April 7, 2009: Signed by governor

May 18, 2009: Nestle Waters and the International Bottled Water Association filed a lawsuit against the state of New York, claiming the New-York-only UPC provision violates the US Constitution

May 27, 2009: U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa issued a verbal injunction preventing the updated law from being implemented while the lawsuit is in progress.

May 29, 2009: A written court order by Judge Griesa further delayed implementation of any part of the law until April 1, 2010

August 13, 2009: District Judge Batts ordered that all elements of the bill should go into effect immediately except the expansion to bottled water (effective October 22) and the implementation of a NY-specific bar code (enjoined indefinitely)


For inquiries about the campaign

Laura Haight, NYPIRG.
(518) 436-0876 x258 or
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Joseph Stelling, NYPIRG
518-436-0876 x276 or
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For inquiries about the changes to the law

Jennifer Kruman
Environmental Program Specialist 1
NY DEC, Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials
Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253
Phone: 518-402-8705
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


2007 New York Campaign

Governor Spitzer included the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in his first executive budget proposal. Despite an outpouring of grassroots support for this proposal, however, Senator Bruno refused to allow the bill to make it into the final state budget that was approved in March. However, Assembly Bill A08044 and its corresponding senate bill S 5850 were the bills studied in legislature. Campaign events and activism in 2007 may have helped keep it alive.


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View the PowerPoint presentation instead. Container Deposit Legislation: Past, Present, Future provides a quick look at the most important facts about bottle bills. This presentation is also a great tool for activists needing to present information in support of a bottle bill.