A.5028-A (Englebright)

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Senior Director, Government Affairs
518.694.4461

BILL

A.5028-A (Englebright)

SUBJECT

Bottle Bill Expansion

DATE

Oppose

The Business Council of New York State opposes this legislation which would expand the Bottle Deposit Law to include wine, distilled spirits, hard cider, fruit juices, teas, sport drinks, cold coffee drinks, non-alcoholic cider and other new age beverages; require bottles to meet specific recycled material thresholds; and significantly inflate the handling fee. The bottle deposit law duplicates curbside collection programs, is costly, removes valuable materials from municipal recycling programs, and burden small retailers. For these reasons, nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts voters rejected a similar proposal that would have required a 5-cent deposit for nearly all non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drinks.

Duplication

The original Bottle Deposit Law was advanced at a time when few people had access to recycling. Now, 94% of the U.S. population has access to recycling. Only ten state have adopted a bottle deposit law and curbside recycling. In 2010, Delaware replaced its bottle bill with a curbside collection program. Delaware ended the five-cent container deposit and replaced it with a temporary four-cent tax to fund the implementation of a curbside collection recycling program. By 2016, the overall recycling rate in Delaware had risen 10 percent. 

In 1988, Governor Mario M. Cuomo signed the New York State Solid Waste Management Act of 1988. The law requires municipalities to adopt local laws or ordinances requiring the separation and segregation of recyclable or reusable materials from solid waste by no later than September 1, 1992. 

Bottle deposit programs duplicate what curbside collection programs achieve and can cost a lot more to do so. A 2013 study published by the Massachusetts Food Association suggested the proposed expansion would have cost $6,600 per ton, while municipal curbside collections could lose valuable recyclables. Simply put, if the State has a bottle bill, we still need a system to handle all other recyclables. And if a state has two systems, one will take away from the other and this has consequences.

Costly

Even with an effective redemption process, the deposit program is not without cost. There is a transaction every time a beverage container or deposit changes hands, and each of these transactions comes with its own cost. Regardless of how the program is structured, there are also upfront costs associated with expanding bottle-deposit programs, as well as the long-term expense. 

The packaging and brands represented by the proposed covered products are much more varied that those currently subject to the current Deposit Law. Because of the different production and distribution systems expansion will impact more businesses adding to the complexity and higher cost.  

Upfront costs to expand the bottle bill to cover new beverages include the capital costs to calibrate redemption centers, to purchase and install new reverse vending machines, and to acquire all necessary equipment. There are also upfront administrative costs, primarily associated with establishing the necessary capacity to run the program.

Removes Valuable Post-Consumer Materials

While purporting to provide financial support to municipal recycling efforts, this bill will in fact take valuable post-consumer materials out of municipal recycling programs and divert those materials to store-based recycling. Many of the beverage bottles that will be affected by an expanded bottle bill are made from PET, which has a current average market value of approximately $320 per ton. Aluminum cans, which are used for some non-carbonated beverages that would also be captured by this expanded bottle bill, have a current market value of $800 per ton. In contrast, newsprint - a major component of municipal recycling programs has a current average market value of just $71`per ton a fraction of the value of material that the bottle bill is siphoning off from the municipal recycling program. As a result, this bill will reduce the average per-ton recovery value of the municipal recycling stream, while necessitating expanded state-taxpayer financial support for those very same programs.

Burdensome 

By increasing the volume of redemptions, this bill will significantly increase the compliance burden placed on supermarkets, convenience stores and other beverage outlets. 

The existing bottle bill imposes additional costs on retailers, consumes limited store space and staff resources, and raises sanitation and "housekeeping" problems in stores. This bill would exacerbate each of these adverse impacts on the retail sector. 

Touted as an environmental measure, this is in reality a hidden tax on New York State manufacturers, bottlers, distributors and - ultimately - consumers. These added costs will eventually lead to higher prices and perhaps sales disruptions as below scale operators from adjoining states bootleg cheaper products into New York - especially New York City. Because of both expansion and this higher price to sell legally, an already continuing network of determined operators will benefit to the detriment to law abiding, and taxed, in-state producers and franchises. As such, these increased costs are of concern both to New York's beverage industry and its workforce.

Post-Consumer Minimums

The legislation would mandated that by January 1, 2022, every glass beverage container shall contain a minimum percentage of thirty-five percent post-consumer glass and every aluminum beverage container shall contain a minimum percentage of thirty-five percent post-consumer aluminum; that by January 1, 2025, every polyethylene terephthalate (PET) beverage container shall contain no less than twenty-five percent post-consumer PET; and by January 1, 2030, every plastic beverage container shall contain no less than thirty percent post-consumer plastic.

These requirements will be difficult and expensive for the supply chain to comply with. Additionally, for many plastics there is currently a maximum amount of times that a plastic can be recycled. Many plastics can only be recycled two or three times before the quality of the product degrades. 

Conclusion

New York State operates two separate state-wide recycling programs - mandated municipal recycling for those post-consumer wastes for which there is an "economic market," and mandated store-based recycling for certain beverage containers. Shifting materials from one mandated recycling program to another will produce limited environmental benefits to the state, while imposing significant additional costs and inconvenience on consumers and businesses alike.

For these reasons, The Business Council opposes adoption of this proposal.