Bill Memo: Better Bottle Bill


This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) by expanding the returnable container deposit scheme to include most beverage containers, increases the bottle deposit to ten cents per container, increases the handling fee, requires at least 25-percent of distributor sales be refillable by 2030, and establishes a grant program to assist small businesses with the costs of reverse vending machines.


New York State’s Returnable Container Act (known as the “Bottle Bill”), which was last expanded in 2009, has been effective at increasing recycling rates by providing ease of access and incentives for bottle and can returns.


Beverage containers of all sorts lie on the sides of the roads in our neighborhoods and on beaches, to the infamous garbage patches in our oceans – plastic pollution is a scourge on our environment.


This legislation expands the types of containers eligible for a deposit under the bottle deposit law framework, initially covering noncarbonated soft drinks, carbonated fruit beverages, noncarbonated fruit or vegetable juice, coffee, tea, and cider, and expanding to cover nearly all beverage containers in 2029. The bill increases the refund value to ten cents per container. Expanding the deposit program and increasing the refund value incentivizes consumers to return bottles to redemption centers for disposal, leading to an increase in recycling rates and making our environment and communities much cleaner. In addition, the bill aims to stem the loss of redemption centers in New York by increasing the handling fee per container. The 3.5 cent handling fee has not kept pace with costs leading to the closure of more than 100 redemption centers over the last year. The legislation will immediately raise the handling fee to 5 cents per container with an upward adjustment to 6.5 cents in 2031.


The bill aims to reduce the sale of single use containers by requiring distributors to establish refillable container return and reusable systems. Starting in 2030, at least 25-percent of all beverage containers sold by a distributor must be refillable. Non-refillable containers will be subject to recycled material content mandates, climbing from 70-percent recycled materials in 2026 to 90-percent by 2030.


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Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Substantial Benefit

Memo #: 48