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New York Weighs Bottle Deposit Law

March 5, 2009

Albany, NY — Anyone who enjoys a non-carbonated beverage on the go may soon be feeling the squeeze as New York reconsiders expanding its bottle law. State lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday about what's being called the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill, which would require deposits on bottled water and other beverages to encourage recycling and to generate more than $100 million in annual revenue. Supporters say beverage drinkers throw away more than 4 billion bottles and cans each year in New York - enough to stretch from Battery Park to the moon and back.

State Sen. Antoine Thompson (D-New York), chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, held a hearing in Albany Wednesday. He reports strong support for returnable water bottles, while other beverages are still under consideration.

"Most people right now, from what I can tell, support expanding the law to bottled water. It gets a little fuzzy on the other things, but I think even some of those areas can be negotiated if it’s done the right way."

Sen. Thompson says New York has a choice; it can follow Connecticut and send all that revenue to the state, or take a more-moderate approach, like the state of Michigan.

"You can reach a middle ground where the state keeps 75 percent and the industry gets 25 percent. Some money is better than no money, and Connecticut just passed a bottle law, so, I think the industry leaders are probably looking at some kind of compromise."

Gov. Paterson included $110 million in revenue from the bottle bill in his state budget, while unclaimed deposits on carbonated beverages already bring in more than $100 million for the state each year. The beverage industry says, if the bottle bill is expanded to non-carbonated beverages, it would need to keep at least a portion of that unclaimed money to cover costs. Lawmakers are expected to debate the measure next week. The next public hearing takes place Friday, from 10:00 a.m. until noon at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.



Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY