Counties want expanded Bottle Bill to be limited to glass containers

Posted 22 February 2019 at 11:13 am

Press Release, New York State Association of Counties

Today, counties across the state are urging Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to make modifications to the Governor’s proposed expansion of the Returnable Container Act, which would add a deposit to sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit and vegetable beverages, and ready-to-drink coffees and teas.

While this “Bottle Bill” proposal is well-intentioned, it harms recycling programs that are already being threatened by global recycling market volatility. In 2017 and 2018, China implemented policy changes that resulted in a 90 percent reduction in the value of paper and a 63 percent loss in value of the traditional recycling stream.

The governor’s proposal would place an undue burden on municipal recyclers by removing as much as 50 percent of valuable plastic and aluminum containers from the recycling stream. This would result in an additional loss of revenue for local solid waste programs. The NYS Association of Counties (NYSAC) urges the governor and State Legislature to modify the expansion of the Bottle Bill to include only glass containers.

“Solid waste entities have put forth a lot of time, effort, and money to carry out state and local recycling initiatives,” said Stephen McElwain, President of the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management. “We oppose the governor’s proposal to take value out of the curbside bin at a time when global market changes have made it difficult for local entities to continue providing these environmentally-beneficial programs.”

Instead of adding more plastic and aluminum bottles to the Bottle Bill, counties urge the state to add a deposit to additional glass beverage containers, including wine and liquor bottles, hard cider bottles, and non-alcoholic glass beverage containers. Glass causes problems in the municipal recycling stream because it breaks and contaminates other recyclables. Placing a deposit on these containers would increase glass recycling, reduce municipal recycling costs, and reduce glass contamination in the curbside bin.

“Recycling glass with the proven bottle deposit program is the best way to ensure glass is clean enough to become bottles again,” said Andrew Radin, director of Waste Reduction and Recycling for Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA). “OCRRA urges the Legislature and governor to include wine, liquor and hard cider in the NYS Bottle Bill this session. More glass redeemed for deposits increases cleaner recycling and provides much needed relief for local recycling programs.”

NYSAC urges the governor and State Legislature to modify the Governor’s proposed expansion of the Bottle Bill to include only glass containers.

“It is estimated that extending the Bottle Bill to include wine and liquor bottles would divert over 150,000 tons of glass to the deposit system,” said Stephen Acquario, NYSAC executive director. “This revenue could be used to bring recycling infrastructure up to modern standards and capabilities, as well as support local recycling education and environmental initiatives.”

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