New York has collected over $120 million in unclaimed deposits since it passed the "Bottle Bill" a year ago.
October 31 marked the one-year anniversary of the expansion of New York’s beverage container deposit law to include a 5 cents deposit on bottled water. Under the new law, beverage companies are now required to transfer 80% of the unredeemed deposits to the state General Fund. Previously, beverage companies kept all the unclaimed deposits.
The $120 million is slightly more than the $118 million predicted in the state budget.
While it is too early to measure the full benefits of the new law, state and national recycling advocates are hailing the first year as a success.
“Consumers have adjusted easily to the expanded bottle bill and it is already delivering on its promise of a cleaner and healthier environment,” said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group. “It has also created new jobs for small businesses and generated critically needed revenue for the state.”
Haight noted that a survey of supermarkets and convenience stores in February found that 93% of the stores surveyed were complying with the law’s redemption requirements, and most of the water bottles sold were properly labeled.
In addition,the number of registered redemption centers which take back empty containers grew from 113 in 2009 to 131 as of October 2010. Many of these small businesses have been able to expand and increase their employees’ wages and benefits.
Nationally, plastic recycling got a significant boost in 2009 due to the expansion of bottle laws in New York, Connecticut and Oregon to include bottled water, most of which is sold in PET plastic bottles.
According to Susan Collins, Executive Director of the Container Recycling Institute, “We are seeing excellent growth in recycling rates in the container deposit-refund programs around the country. The expansions in New York, Connecticut and Oregon added nearly four and a half billion containers to deposit programs, and have the potential to increase the nation’s overall beverage container recycling rate by two percentage points.”
Collins continued, “PET reclaimers in the U.S. are hungry for this material. They are busy building new plants in the U.S., and can staff them with new employees as long as the materials are available to them.”