Like many states looking to cope with budgetary deficits, New York is possibly facing a $15 billion deficit for 2009-2010. To counteract this, the state is hoping to expand its Refundable Container Act (Bottle Bill) to help generate extra revenue. Being called the “Bigger Better Bottle Bill,” the expansion would look to include bottles used for noncarbonated and nonalcoholic beverages, such as water, sports drinks and juice.
According to the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), more than 90 billion bottles and cans have been returned and recycled since the law was enacted in 1982. Additionally, more than six million tons of plastic, glass and metal have been kept out of landfills and incinerators. Advocates for a Bigger Better Bottle Bill also note that expanded recycling would encourage less litter and broken glass in streets, parks, playgrounds and beaches, therefore making them safer, cleaner and more attractive.
One reason for the expansion is growth in the bottled beverage industry over the past few decades, since non-carbonated beverages like bottled water, iced teas and sports drinks weren’t as popular when the original law was drafted. But today, “more than three billion non-carbonated beverage bottles and cans end up in the trash or polluting our state’s rivers, beaches and neighborhoods each year because they don’t have a deposit,” according to NYPIRG.
Some also say the new bill would put more money in New York’s pocket, with some estimating the expanded bill could exceed $218 million annually, a large portion of which would go into the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, according to an article in the New York Times. The Times also reports that the measure would “add as many as five billion more cans and bottles to the nine billion that now carry the nickel deposit.”
Previously the measure has not made it past the state Senate, although it will be up for review again this year, as the deadline for public comment recently passed March 1.