WNY groups call for a ‘bigger and better bottle bill’ – Buffalo Rising


Niagara Square was the kick-off for a statewide event to call for a “bigger and better bottle bill”. A group of environmental and social justice organizations were brought together on Friday by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to modernize the Returnable Container Act (commonly known as the Bottle Bill) and to include it as part of its 2022-2023 executive budget.

NYPIRG spokesman Ryan Carson outlined the changes the coalition is calling for to the Bottle Bill. First, expand on the types and number of beverage containers covered by the bottle bill. Second, to increase the deposit to a dime.

Since 1982, the only major change in the New York Bottle Bill was in 2009, when guidelines were added to water bottles. Many new types of beverages have entered the market since 1982 and are currently exempt from the five-cent deposit, including sports drinks, teas, and bottled coffees. In addition, the original bill exempted non-carbonated drinks such as 100% juice drinks. The expansion of beverage types would also result in deposits for non-carbonated alcoholic beverages, such as wine, ciders, mead, and spirits.

A common refrain from speakers in Niagara Square is that the value of a nickel is not what it used to be. This can be seen in the steadily declining redemption rates, from a high of 80% in 1985 to the current rate of 64%. The call to increase the deposit complies with the recommendations of the Container Recycling Institute (CRI). Their studies show that a higher deposit equals a higher return rate.

The IRC can also draw on the experience of the State of Oregon to show the impact of an increase in the amount of the bond. Their first bottle bill in the country was enacted in 1971, and like New York, their return rate steadily dropped to 64% in 2016. In 2017 the deposit was increased to ten cents and in 2020 their return rate was 90%.

The call was for an expansion of the types of beverages included in the deposit program and to increase the deposit to partially accommodate 40 years of inflation.

Earlier this year, a bill similar to NYPIRG’s proposals to modernize the New York Bottle Bill passed with bipartisan support in Connecticut. In addition, the states bordering the Empire State act on their own proposals. There are calls in Massachusetts to improve their Bottle Bill, legislation has been introduced to extend the Bottle Bill to Vermont, and a proposal to start a deposit program in Pennsylvania was recently presented at the State House.

The effort to modernize the New York Bottle Bill is nothing new. Several proposals have been suggested in the past, most recently by Governor Cuomo in his 2019 State of the State address. There was also concurrent legislation that was proposed during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions that would have expanded the elements included in the bottle bill. At the time, it was vigorously opposed by the American Beverage Association (ABA), a group funded by companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

But over the past couple of years, these companies and many others have made a commitment to using recycled content for their packaging, and the ABA now has an initiative to reclaim every bottle. There is no better way to return recyclables in a closed loop bottle to bottle system than a single flow collection system like the one we have with our bottle invoice. Returned containers are a dream source for recyclers. It is a source of clean material as the containers are already sorted into glass, aluminum and plastic, which reduces handling costs and makes recycled content (especially for plastic) more competitive compared to new virgin materials.

When an extension to the Bottle Law was proposed three years ago, Governor Cuomo noted that it “would help minimize waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment.” for future generations ”. The Bottle Bill has been recognized as the most effective program we have in tackling roadside waste. It is time to modernize product law and the economy of the 2020s.

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