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Advocates call on Hochul to expand NY's Bottle Bill

A collection of empty bottles

A coalition of environmental, civic and social justice groups is asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to modernize and expand the state’s Bottle Bill.

The bill has been around in New York for 40 years and was expanded a decade ago to include water bottles. However, it essentially remains the same as when it was enacted in 1982. Consumers pay a 5-cent refundable deposit on bottles or cans they buy.

Over time, the redemption rate has stalled, settling in at about 64%. But the market for recycled glass and plastic is depressed. So the coalition thinks it’s time to bring the Bottle Bill into the 21st century, according to coordinator Ryan Carson of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

"A nickel is not what it used to be. So we want to see that deposit go up to 10 cents," Carson said. “We also want to see more bottles actually covered by this piece of legislation.”

That means wine and liquor bottles, as well as some juice and other non-carbonated beverages, could be included in the legislation.

“Right now, juices and Gatorade aren’t covered by the Bottle Bill and we need to see those plastics get back into the recycling stream,” Carson said.

The coalition also wants to expand the number of redemption centers in underserved areas.

Carson is hoping a series of letters from across the state will encourage the Hochul administration to include the “Bigger, Better Bottle Bill” in next year’s executive budget.

“We definitely think that Governor Hochul, who has taken some major strides on the environment in her first days in office, we think this will fit into her environmental platform,” said Carson, who added that other states have that have increased deposits and the types of beverage containers have been successful boosting their recycling programs.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.