By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The Assembly will pass a measure Monday expanding the state's bottle bill to include the millions of containers sold in New York each year holding sports drinks, energy drinks, some fruit juices and teas.
The provision is buried within the one-house Assembly Democratic budget plan introduced over the weekend that will be ready for passage on Monday. [The two houses are pushing their own budget alternatives this week as fiscal talks at the Capitol wind down, all sides hope, in the next couple weeks.]
The bottle bill expansion would raise $5 million annually, Assembly Democrats project. They want the money to go into the state's Environmental Protection Fund and to flow to various projects: $500,000 for invasive species control, $500,000 for recycling projects, $1.5 million for non-agriculure, non-point source pollution abatement, $1 million for zoos and botanical gardens, $500,000 for municipal parks and $1 million for downstate land acquistion efforts.
The expansion to sports and energy drinks and teas, as well as fruit drinks that contain less than 70 percent natural juice, comes after lawmakers in 2009 added water bottles to the list of those containers on which consumers must pay an additional 5 cents deposit per container at the time of purchase. The bottle bill became law in 1982 under then-Gov. Hugh Carey. The law currently covers beer, carbonated soft drinks, mineral water, carbonated energy and most carbonated fruit juices.
Advocates say the bottle bill expansions are needed to raise money and to help reduce pollution by people who toss their empty beverage containers on sidewalks and and along roadways. Critics say it is a backdoor tax on commerce that drives up prices. The state makes money under the bottle law from getting a portion of the unclaimed deposits from consumers who do not redemn their containers to get their nickels back.
taggedAndrew Cuomo | Sheldon Silver