Bottled up

Although the Bigger Better Bottle Bill passed in the state Assembly only to die in the Senate this spring, some lawmakers are hoping to bring it back for consideration next year.

Some see the bill, which was sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Robert Sweeney of Suffolk County, as a way to update the 1982 New York State Returnable Container Act, commonly known as the bottle bill, by assigning non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water, sports drinks, juices and iced tea a 5-cent refundable deposit.

Every unredeemed 5-cent deposit, which in the past would have gone to the distributor and the business that originally sold the product, would be returned to the state and invested in environmental programs such as recycling programs, parks, pollution prevention and water quality improvement.

Although the addition of non-carbonated beverages to the already existing beer and soda deposits sounds like a good idea for many environmentalists, those against the bill see it as nothing more than a way for the state to help to balance the budget by redirecting money from local businesses back into the government.

This is a money grab no doubt, said Jonathan Peirce, who represents New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform, a coalition of state retailers, businesses and labor groups that support legislation that will improve recycling without increased consumer costs.

"The proposal is a bad thing for New York consumers who can't deal with an increase in anything, with increasing gas and food prices. Bottles and cans of all beverages make up less than 3 percent of the waste stream and 9 percent of litter on roads."

According to research done by Northbridge Environmental Consultants, New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform say that the Bigger Better Bottle Bill would result in an average increase of 15 cents for each bottle and can in stores.

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