This is the 25th year that New York has had a 5 cent deposit on all soda cans and bottles. According to NYPIRG this means over 5 million tons of recycleable glass, plastic and aluminum has been kept out of our state’s landfills. Our current rate for recycling deposit containers is at 80%, 70% through bottle redemption and 10% through curbside pickup. This is an impressive rate that has rid streets, parks and lots of refuse, and saved energy and reduced landfill.
It has been hard to ignore the explosion in popularity of sports drinks, iced tea and bottled water over the past decade. These bottles are currently exempt from the 5 cent deposit in NY state, although they are accepted in curbside recycling pickup. Despite the availability of blue bin recycling, only 20% of non-deposit containers are recycled. You can see it in airports, workplaces and schools, plastic water bottles fill trash cans – and head straight to the landfill. Not valuable to those searching for redeemable containers, they remain as litter on the side of the road and in the street.
Governor Spitzer has included the expanded bottle bill in his budget proposal being sent to the legislature. The 5 cent deposit would apply to bottled water, iced tea, and juice containers for most sizes found in the supermarket. Exempt would be milk and dairy products.
As a twist, Spitzer is marketing the expanded bill as a way to bring about $25 million in new revenue to help pay for environmental programs. Currently the money from non-redeemed bottle deposits stays with the bottlers. Under his plan the money would now go into the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. According to the Albany Times-Union:
In his State of the State address, he cited the $100 million to $200 million in anticipated unclaimed deposits from an expanded bottle law as the source for any future increases in the Environmental Protection Fund, which currently gets $225 million a year in state money. The fund is the pot from which virtually every environmental expense, from land acquisition to landfill closures, is paid.
I have been waiting to see what the election of Elliot Spitzer would mean to the environmental future of New York. If this bill is any indication, I think that the future is looking a little brighter.
For more information on the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill check out these facts from NYPIRG (who has been pushing for it unsuccessfully for quite sometime now)
This is where I borrowed the bottle pic from, the Bottle Bill Toolkit website, out of MA. They found that 81% of all containers picked up in a clean up of the Charles River were non-deposit containers.