New York’s State Returnable Container Act (commonly known as “the bottle bill”), which was expanded in 2009, has proven effective at increasing recycling rates by providing ease of access and incentives for bottle and can returns. This bill severely undercuts the effectiveness of the bottle bill by exempting certain businesses from participation in the program.
From bottles and cans that lie on the sides of roads in our neighborhoods and on beaches, to the infamous garbage patches in our oceans, plastic pollution is a scourge on our environment. Reports estimate that plastic pollution is expected to triple by 2025 if intervention measures are not taken, such as reducing use of plastic and recycling.
The key to the effectiveness of the bottle bill is that it provides consumers with convenient recycling options. This bill, by exempting stores outside of New York City with less than 2,000 square feet and food processing establishments with less than 5,000 square feet, would prevent many New Yorkers from being able to easily return their bottles and cans, particularly those that live in rural parts of the State. Buildings with 5,000 square feet or less would mean many gas stations and convenience stores would be exempt from the bottle bill.
When the bottle bill was expanded in 2009, the Legislature rejected measures that would have exempted certain size businesses from participation. There is no compelling reason that has come about in the past nine years to call for revisiting the issue now. As plastic pollution is only expected to increase, legislation should be passed to reduce plastic pollution. This bill does the opposite and would exacerbate what is already a tremendous global problem.
This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to exempt businesses less than 2,000 square feet and food processing establishments less than 5,000 square feet from being mandated to accept returns of empty containers.