2007-05-11 / Community

Locals,Environmentalists Cheer New 'Bottle Bill'

Advocates for the "Bigger Better Bottle Bill," including some local residents and politicians, recently praised Assemblyman Bob Sweeney and members of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee for passing the Governor's Program Bill out of committee according to local experts who are familiar the legislative problem. The groups called on the Assembly, the Senate, and the Governor to come to an agreement this year on updating the bottle bill.

Assemblyman Sweeney, who chairs the EnCon committee, introduced the Governor's program bill updating the bottle bill (A. 8044) on May 2, with more than 50 Assembly cosponsors, including those who represent Rockaway.

The Governor's program bill is substantially similar to previous legislation that the Assembly passed in 2005 and 2006.

The bill must now be approved by the Assembly Codes, Ways & Means, and Rules committees before it can go to the Assembly floor for a vote, which is expected to happen quickly, given the support of the bill shown by the large number of sponsors.

In March, after the Senate rejected the Governor's proposal to include the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in the state budget, Senator Carl Marcellino pledged to address the issue post-budget.

There are two bills pending in the Senate.

Senator Ken LaValle sponsors a bill similar to the legislation supported by the Governor and the Assembly (S.3434). Senator Marcellino, who chairs the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, has introduced a bill (S. 5443) that would expand the existing bottle law to include non-carbonated beverages, but does not go after the unclaimed deposits.

The "Bigger Better Bottle Bill" updates the existing bottle bill to include non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water and iced tea, which barely existed in 1982 when the law was passed, but now make up more than 27% of the beverage market. It also requires beverage companies to turn over unclaimed nickel deposits to the state, which would generate an estimated $180 million a year in new funding for the Environmental Protection Fund.

"We urge the Legislature and Governor to work together to expand the successful bottle bill to conserve our planet's non-renewable resources," stated Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director. "A modern bottle bill will benefit all New Yorkers by reducing litter, increasing recycling, and reducing landfill space and waste disposal costs."

"The bottle bill was one of the key issues held over from the budget," said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG.

"We will hold Senate leaders to their promise that they will finally deal with this issue, a NYPIRG spokesperon said recently"

"We recognize that the bottle bill, in conjunction with curbside collection of recyclables, is the true answer to keeping New York clean by preventing litter and making sure that these containers are indeed recycled," said Jeff Cooper, president of the New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling

"Legislators, redeem thyselves," advised Barbara Toborg, Broad Channel resident and Conservation Coordinator for the American Littoral Society. "It's time that you demonstrate a commitment to a cleaner environment by supporting the Bigger Better Bottle Bill that would add the nickel deposit to containers for non-carbonated beverages. Volunteers who document litter in the annual New York State Beach Cleanup find these containers twice as often as those with the deposit."

"The BBBB makes sense for New Yorkers from a fiscal standpoint, in addition to its significant environmental benefits. It would be economically prudent for the State Senate to advance this sensible legislation this session, and we strongly urge that the bill be allowed to come up for a vote," said NRDC senior attorney Eric A. Goldstein.

"For the past two years the Assembly has moved this legislation forward while the Senate continues to delay," said Theresa Cassiack, Legislative Associate for the Sierra Club. "While we are forced to continue to wait, non carbonated beverage containers continue to flood our parks, beaches, forests and roads."

"Non-deposit plastic bottles and aluminum cans are an unsightly blight littering New York's rural roadsides," said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal.

"The Adirondack Park hosts 10 million visitors a year. Those visitors make up a huge portion of the state's tourism economy. They don't come here to see energy drink cans and water bottles littering every roadside, picnic area and trail. It's unfair to expect the Park's 130,000 residents to clean up 5,000 miles of roadways and 4,000 miles of trails on their own. They need help in the form of an expanded deposit law that discourages littering, while rewarding those who are willing to take the time to pick up after others."

"Twenty-five years is long enough to wait for common sense policy to help New Yorkers cope with the ocean of non-deposit beverage containers," said Steve Breyman, Executive Director of Citizens' Environmental Coalition.

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