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June 3, 2004

Council opposes new proposal to expand the state's 'bottle bill'

The Business Council is urging lawmakers to reject a proposal to expand the state's "bottle bill" because it would effectively add a new tax on consumers and impose a new burden on supermarkets and the beverage industry.

The bill (A.3922-DiNapoli/S.1696-LaValle) would expand the state's bottle bill to cover most beverage containers, and "capture" an increased amount of unclaimed bottle deposits so that they can be used to finance an expanded state spending program.

The bill would burden New York's consumers with what is, in effect, a new tax of $50 million or more per year, The Council said in a legislative memo opposing the bill.

The proposal would also "significantly increase the compliance burden placed on supermarkets, convenience stores, and other beverage outlets," the memo noted. In the process, it would divert valuable resources from the municipal recycling system even as it increases the private sector's recycling responsibilities.

"It is unclear why we would want to mandate that our food stores play an even larger role in our solid waste management system," the memo noted.

There would be added financial harm to the beverage industry, which currently uses unclaimed deposits to partially offset costs imposed by the current bottle bill.

New York already operates two state-wide recycling programs, a mandated municipal recycling programs for post-consumer wastes and a mandated store-based recycling for certain beverage containers.

"Shifting materials from one mandated recycling program to another will produce limited benefits to the state, while imposing significant additional costs and inconvenience on consumers and businesses alike," the memo concluded.