Jun 02, 2005

Two Bills Battle Over Bottle Recycling

Questions have been raised about what to do with empty water bottles. Environmental groups and grocery stores discussed whether to expand New York's bottle-deposit law or scrap it altogether. The outcome of these discussions could lead to a change in the way New Yorkers handle recyclable trash, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.
The bills are being reviewed, said the report. One of the bills offers to broaden the current deposit law to require a five-cent return on all beverages, including water and juice, instead of just carbonated drinks. It would also allow the state to reclaim the estimated $85 million a year from unredeemed bottles, which would be allocated to the Environmental Protection Fund.
The second bill offers to end the five-cent deposit and replace it with a broad-based tax on most packaging, from cereal and baby food to soda cans. Both measures are stuck in committee in the Assembly and Senate, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Grocers, food industry executives, and some legislators are promoting the packaging bill as a more extensive, effective means of recycling, however; environmentalists call it a "stalling tactic," designed in big business's interest to block any bottle law expansion. They have also added that the bill will reduce incentives to recycle.
Laura Haight of New York Public Interest Research Group argues that "a bottle without a deposit is more likely to end up in the trash."
According to the report, proponents of the packaging bill contend that their proposal would provide an alternative way of recycling. It would tax manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers less than 0.03% on all products they sell in New York. It would generate a projected $23 million annually and would go to expand municipal curbside recycling and create a fund to promote recycled products.
Opposing expanding of the bottle-deposit law is a trade group representing grocery stores and food workers strongly. Jim Rogers, president of the Food Industry Association of New York. Said that the expansion proposal takes "an ill-conceived, outdated idea and (makes) it worse. According to Rogers, an expanded bottle bill would trigger higher prices on juices and water.
However, bottle law advocates say the packaging law will increase litter, not help get rid of it.