Saturday, October 31, 2009

Deposits on bottled water in NY to begin October 31st...

When I got the e-mail from Barbara Toborg, Conservation Coordinator of the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society that we needed to update the website with a bottle bill update, I was elated at the news. Starting October 31st, all containers of water sold in New York under a gallon in size will have a 5-cent refundable deposit. The "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" as it was fondly referred to was a hard fought long battle that saw a stay granted in May, by U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa to delay implementation of the new amendments until April 1, 2010 as a result of a lawsuit filed by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Nestle Waters North America, and other water bottlers.

On August 13th, U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts lifted the injunction on all the provisions of the new law that were not specifically challenged in the IBWA lawsuit. This allowed the increased handling fee (from 2 cents per container to 3.5 cents) and the transfer of 80% of the unclaimed deposits to the state to go into effect immediately. On October 23rd, Judge Batts lifted the injunction on the bottled water provisions, effective 11:59 p.m. October 30th. In addition, Judge Batts permanently enjoined one provision of the new law, a New York State-specific UPC labeling requirement, based on constitutionality issues. While the expansion is set to go into effect on October 31st, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced a "grace period" until November 8, 2009, during which time stores can still sell water bottles that do not have the "New York 5-cents" label without being fined.

In addition to expanding the state’s 5-cent deposit on beer and soda containers to include water bottles, the new law also requires beverage companies to transfer 80% of the unclaimed deposits they collect to the state, and make other changes to improve and update the program. These changes went into effect over the summer.

Barbara Toborg, Conservation Coordinator of the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society

Enacted in 1982, the Bottle Bill is New York’s most effective recycling and litter prevention program, with an average return rate of 70%. The expansion to include water bottles brings the law more up-to-date. As a result of expanding to include bottled water, nearly 90% of New York’s beverage containers are now covered under the Bottle Bill. The program still does not cover iced teas, sports drinks, juices, sugared waters, and other non-carbonated beverages that advocates had been pushing for.

Many groups and citizens were involved in this hard fought battle and they should all be proud of themselves. I have listed some of them, but I am sure there are many more - Adirondack Council ♦ Adirondack Mountain Club ♦ American Littoral Society ♦ American Farmland Trust ♦ Citizens’ Environmental Coalition ♦ Citizens Campaign for the Environment ♦ Environmental Advocates of New York ♦ Group for the East End ♦ Land Trust Alliance ♦ League of Women Voters of New York State ♦ Natural Resources Defense Council ♦ New York Farm Bureau ♦ New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling ♦ New York Public Interest Research Group ♦ North Shore Land Alliance ♦ Parks & Trails New York ♦ Riverkeeper ♦ Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter ♦ Surfrider Foundation ♦ Wildlife Conservation Society

Source: American Littoral Society NE Chapter.

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