Expanded bottle bill in effect

Merchants and customers are split about whether the new Bigger Better Bottle Law, which took effe

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Categories: Schenectady County

Merchants and customers are split about whether the new Bigger Better Bottle Law, which took effect Sunday, will cause more people to recycle their cans and bottles instead of throwing them in the trash.

The law adds a 5-cent returnable deposit to water bottles and flavored water with no sugar. It was supposed to take effect in the spring but a federal injunction filed by Nestle had blocked its implementation. In August, U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts lifted the injunction and set the Nov. 8 effective date.

Merchants such as Kenny Desai, manager of Country Farms on Erie Boulevard, have been getting ready for the change. Desai said he let the supply of bottled water get low so he could make the switch to ones that have the 5-cent deposit label.

“It’s a little bit of a hassle,” he said.

Desai said he is essentially passing along the cost of the deposit to customers by raising the price of water.

Peter Rose of Schenectady, a customer at A&R Grocery and Deli on Eastern Avenue, said he did not think the nickel deposit would cause people to not buy the water or make them more likely to recycle the bottle. “It’s not a lot of financial incentive,” he said.

Rafiq Abdo, owner of A&R Grocery, believes that the expanded bottle bill does not cover enough beverages. “They need to do all of them.”

Customer Carlos Villegas of Schenectady agreed, saying sports drink and ice tea bottles should also be redeemed. He sees a lot of those on the side of the road. “Maybe a lot of littering would stop. It’s money,” he said. “Plastic is not good for our Earth.”

Anita Carnegie of Schenectady said she liked the idea of redeeming water bottles.

“A lot of people drink it and they’re spending a lot, so to be able to bring it back would be good,” she said.

Another merchant who did not want to give his name said he anticipated that people would complain at first and then get used to other higher fee as they have done with higher taxes on cigarettes.

The New York Republican Assembly Campaign Committee criticized the new deposit, saying in a statement it represented another burden on small businesses and that customers can expect the price to increase beyond the 5-cent deposit. The law also requires that distributors pay redemption centers 3.5 cents per container, which is an increase from 2 cents. It also allows the state to seize 80 percent of unclaimed deposits. Previously, the merchants had been allowed to keep the revenue. State officials estimate it will collect about $115 million in revenue from the expanded bill.

Phil Markes of Schenectady said he does not drink bottle water so he is not personally affected. It is a boon for those who collect bottles and cans for income, he said.

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