Assembly member Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) recently introduced legislation that would update the New York State Returnable Container Law, expanding the list of redeemable bottles and raising the deposit to a 10-cent return (A.8668, Cahill).
“The bottle law is the most successful waste diversion and recycling program offered by New York state,” he said. “Increasing the deposit and adding containers for wine, iced tea and sports drinks will further incentivize returning these materials and remove litter from our roads and waterways.”
Cahill’s camp said, “The concept for this overhaul, originally introduced to the State Legislature in 2002, was passed in the Assembly in 2005, but died in the Senate. In 2009, plastic water bottles were added to the deposit. Now, this legislation will be revived and revised to include a 5-cent increase to the deposit, expand eligible beverage containers to include certain wine and liquor bottles, dairy products, ice teas and sports drinks, and increase the handling fee of redemption centers from 3.5 cents to 5 cents.
“These improvements to the bottle bill will prevent plastics from being sent to landfills, where they would emit greenhouse gasses as they decompose over centuries. These changes to the bottle bill will fight climate change and help keep our state's streets, parks and cities clean. The proposal has become a priority for environmental advocacy groups such as the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).”
NYPIRG Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator Eric Wood said, "Municipal recycling programs are suffering due to large amounts of glass breakage in recycling loads. Putting a deposit on wine and liquor bottles will significantly reduce the amount of breakage we see in our municipal recycling stream, and boost recycling efforts immensely with an updated law.”
According to the New York State Department of Conservation, the current policy is responsible for a decrease in litter of up to 70% and a material redemption rate of 64% in 2020. A portion of unclaimed deposits are given to the Environmental Protection Fund, adding further benefit even if the return is not utilized by consumers.
“This much-needed update will provide myriad benefits to the waste streams of our municipalities and our regional environment,” Cahill said. “I look forward to garnering the support of my legislative colleagues and seeing its expedient passage.”