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Bottled up

With this increase, the group believes that a case of 24 bottles of juice that would sell for $4.99 would now cost $8.59. The group says this increase in price, alongside the increasing price of food and gas, would hurt rather than help New York consumers who are already feeling a pinch in their pocketbooks. The group is working with the state to make comprehensive recycling goals and would rather work on a solution to recycling that won't require consumers to go out of their way to save the environment and save money, by investing in curbside pickup, municipal waste stations and recycling inside apartment buildings.

On the surface, the updated bottle bill looks like an effective way to help clean up the environment, but for some in the Assembly, including Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Newtonville, the new bill comes off as a burden to Upstate businesses and consumers.

"It's a regressive hidden tax that is detrimental to small business," says Reilly, who represents parts of Albany and Saratoga counties. "Advocates say this is not a tax, and it most certainly is."

Reilly says the proposed bill puts an unneeded burden on retail stores that also exempts small stores in New York City because of "financial difficulties" while leaving Upstate stores to deal with the new tax.

Sweeney, who serves as the Environmental Conservation Committee chairman, and other supporters of the bill, say the negative attention that has been given to the bill is the same the original bill faced in 1982.

"All the arguments that are being used against the new bottle bill are the same arguments against the original bill," said Sweeney, who says the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

According to Sweeney, about 80 percent of recycled products, at curbside pickup or at redemption centers, are those with deposit refunds attached to the product, while only 20 percent of non-refundable recyclable materials are recycled at curbside or redemption centers, leaving about 80 percent of nonrefundable items to become unsightly litter on our highways, parks and left unrecycled in the landfills. The addition of refunds on noncarbonated beverages would create an incentive for people to recycle more products more often.

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