ALBANY — New York businesses would pay more for beverage container deposits — and pay deposits on more types of beverages — in a new proposal introduced in the state legislature.
The state bottle and can deposit would increase from 5 cents to 10 cents as soon as 2025, and would expand to include wine, liquor and several other carbonated and non-carbonated beverages not included in the existing law.
The proposal, dubbed the ”Better Bottle Bill,” is meant to help reduce litter by creating a bigger incentive to return more containers, according to the sponsors, who include Sen. Rachel May, D-Syracuse.
“Raising the deposit to 10 cents will incentivize the public to return empty beverage containers, reduce litter, and provide additional income to individuals who collect and redeem such containers,” according to the “justification” the sponsors included in the bill.
“By expanding the Bottle Bill to include a much more inclusive list of beverages, we can expect an even greater number of containers to be recycled and an even greater reduction of container litter in our streets,” the justification reads. “Additionally, in the face of a growing recycling crisis, an expansion of the Bottle Bill would help ease the burden that municipal recycling facilities are currently facing by keeping these materials out of the traditional waste stream.”
The changes were not included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed 2023-24 budget. That means the deposit proposal likely faces a more difficult path to become law through negotiations in the legislature.
New York adopted a container deposit law in 1982, making it among the first states to do so. That bill covered beer and soda containers, both bottles and cans. It was amended to include packaged water in 2009, and has not been changed since.
The new proposal requires a deposit for wine and liquor bottles along with “non-carbonated soft drinks, non-carbonated fruit and vegetable juices containing less than 100% fruit or vegetable juice, coffee and tea beverages, and carbonated fruit beverages.”
A Siena College poll commissioned recently by the New York Public Interest Research Group, which advocates for environmental issues, found 71% of respondents statewide support expanding the deposit law.
But concerns have been raised by the beverage industry, including manufacturers like wineries and breweries and liquor store owners.
For liquor stores, who have never had to deal with bottle returns in the past, it “could present some logistical challenges,” said John Peter, of of Peter’s Liquors on Route 11 in North Syracuse. He notes the New York State Liquor Store Association is opposed to the bill.
Issues for the stores include finding space to handle returned containers and having employees designated to deal with returns. Handling returns is also complicated by the fact that stores get their merchandise from multiple distributors.
“We’re in a wait and see mode,” Peter said. “Obviously it would present some issues. But we’ll roll with it and see what happens.’’
The New York State Wine & Grape Foundation, a tax-supported group that represents the state winery industry, takes no official stand on the issue but is “monitoring” the bill, according to a recent update from its director, Sam Filler. The proposal is one that could have a “material impact on our industry,” he wrote.
Beer containers are already subject to the deposit, but the New York State Brewers Association is similarly keeping an eye on the deposit increase, said that group’s executive director, Paul Leone.
Increasing the deposit on a six-pack likely means passing that cost onto consumers, Leone said.
“It adds financial pressure on them (breweries),” Leone said, noting that brewers, like other industries, are already facing rising prices for goods and services. “It will have an effect.’’
The sponsors of the new container bill say they are phasing in the timetable for implementing the changes to “allow time for the bottle return industry to prepare.”
May recently posted a tweet on her support for the bill:
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