Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New York expands its "bottle bill"

We've been accustomed to paying an extra nickel per bottle or can for beer, soda, and energy drinks like Red Bull. Oh? You didn't know there was a deposit on Red Bull? Shame on you! I digress.

Beginning November 8, New Yorkers will be paying that extra nickel for bottles of water weighing less than 1 gallon. The Save-A-Lot supermarket chain, perhaps thinking way ahead of everyone else, has had the deposit in effect on all bottled beverages for quite a while now, which made them the only stores in New York to accept deposits on water, iced tea, & lemonade. Apparently, this confused some consumers, who would bring their empties to rival markets, thinking that if 1 store took them back, they all would. Not now, but soon, it would appear.

Bear in mind that for now, only water joins soda & beer in being returned for a deposit. In time, lemonade and iced tea will follow suit. Aside from New York, bottled water is returned in Maine, Hawaii, Michigan, and California. One has to assume that everyone else will follow suit in due course.

From an environmental standpoint, it's a huge positive, as it takes a lot of empty bottles off the streets. Yes, there are those people who don't see the benefits of bottle returns, which is why you see beer & soda bottles and cans still strewn in the streets, easily collected by local urchins looking for a quick payday.

However, the increase in the bottle bill has gone under-reported in some newspapers. The Record, my hometown paper, for example, practically buried the story, giving it next to no priority. The urchins will learn about it either via television or by word of mouth, but they have to wait for the newly labeled bottles to become available as of 11/8. Anything before then still won't net them anything---unless they go to Save-A-Lot. By this time next year, you have to assume that everything else (iced tea, lemonade) falls into line, and while it's going to create an increase in traffic at the bottle returns at the markets, it will also create---we hope---cleaner streets in our cities.

Roughly translated: to paraphrase the United Negro College Fund, an empty bottle is a terrible thing to waste. Let's all do our part.

No comments: