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NY Sees Major Push to Expand Bottle Deposit Law

In 2016, New Yorkers recycled more than 5 billion beverage containers. (pxhere)
In 2016, New Yorkers recycled more than 5 billion beverage containers. (pxhere)
March 26, 2019

NEW YORK — Environmental groups are hoping to get an expanded bottle deposit law passed with the state budget.

The budget is due next Monday, April 1, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators still are negotiating over several outstanding issues. More than 50 organizations have signed a letter urging lawmakers to include a bill that would expand the state's bottle deposit law to include most non-carbonated beverages.

According to Liz Moran, environmental policy director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, the current law, which covers bottled water, beer and soda, has been one of the state's most successful recycling and litter reduction measures.

"It reduced litter 70 percent,” Moran said. “And just in 2016, it recycled more than 5 billion containers."

A bill to expand the deposit law has been introduced in the state Assembly, and the governor included a similar proposal in his executive budget.

The current law adds a five-cent deposit on covered beverage containers. Moran noted studies have shown that bottles and cans with a deposit are more likely to be recycled than those without one.

"There's an increasingly large market for non-carbonated beverages like iced tea, ready-to-go coffee, sports drinks, so we think it makes sense to put a deposit on those bottles and encourage them to be recycled,” she said.

Consumers can return bottles and cans to large stores where the beverages are sold or to redemption centers to collect the deposits.

Moran pointed out the world is in the midst of a plastic pollution crisis.

"Over 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year,” she said. “It's really important that New York state does its part to reduce plastic pollution, and the bottle deposit law is a proven way to do that."

Other states, including Maine, California and Oregon, already have expanded their bottle-deposit laws to include some non-carbonated beverages.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY