New Yorkers Oppose Governor Spitzer’s Bottle Tax

Siena College Research Institute conducted an objective poll of 1,200 New Yorkers to understand opinions about the current bottle deposit law, the expanded bottle deposit law and a proposal to enhance curbside and community recycling programs. The poll was conducted on behalf of New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform, a coalition of New York businesses, grocers and labor unions that strongly opposes Governor Spitzer’s proposal to expand the bottle deposit tax.
Siena found:

  •  EXPANDING THE BOTTLE DEPOSIT LAW DOES NOT HAVE A MANDATE. When asked –on a first ballot –if they preferred expanding the bottle law, expanding curbside recycling or leaving the system as it is, two-thirds of all respondents preferred a policy other than bottle deposit expansion. After hearing arguments (both for and against bottle law expansion), 23% prefer expansion of the bottle law, 32% prefer expansion of curbside programs and 42% prefer the status quo.
  •  NEW YORKERS OPPOSE BOTTLE LAW EXPANSION BECAUSE OF THE COST. 66% say that the $190 million cost of bottle deposit expansion and the fact that beverage prices will increase an average of $.15 (70%) makes them less likely to support expansion.69% said that the “hidden tax” made them less likely to support expansion.
  • NEW YORKERS BELIEVE THAT BOTTLE LAW EXPANSION WILL BE INCONVENIENT. 52% oppose expansion (40% strongly oppose) of the deposit law because they will be forced to redeem additional beverage containers. 56% say that the “hassle”of expansion will make them less likely to support the plan.
  • NEW YORKERS SUPPORT EXPANDING CURBSIDE RECYCLING. 63% support expanding curbside or community recycling and increasing the number of public recycling receptacles. 79% support the fact that the RCA would provide local communities with increased funding and 78% support hiring additional workers for litter clean-up.

New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform is a coalition of New York businesses, retailers and labor unions who believe that New York should look to comprehensive solutions — Real Recycling Reform — and not an outdated, ineffective and costly idea like bottle law expansion. For more information, please call Michael Rosen or Jim Rogers of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State at 518-434-1900.

New York State Grocers, Businesses And Labor Groups Decry Governor Spitze’s Proposed New Beverage Taxes

“Governor Spitzer Has Proposed a Job Killing Beverage Tax of Up to 72%; Every New Yorker Will Feel This New Tax Increase Every Time They Go Food Shopping”

(ALBANY) A coalition of New York State grocers, labor groups and other businesses will be working over the next several months to draw attention to a new grocery tax proposed by Governor Spitzerin today’s budget announcements and to get him to focus efforts on realrecycling reformin away that will not hurt New York’s economy and target the elderly and families.
Governor Spitzer’s proposalto expand the bottle deposit law to include nearly all of the items in astore’s beverage aisle will come at a huge cost to consumers and severely damage New York State’s economy. Northbridge Environmental Consultants has determined that if bottle deposits are expanded to cover additional beverages such aschildren’s juice drinks, athletic drinks, bottled water sand iced tea, the average increase in price for each bottle and can sold in stores will be $0.15 (including the $.05 deposit). The total cost to New Yorkers will be $337 million. As are sult of Governor Spitzer’s bottle tax, the cost, for example, of a case of 24 bottles of water that now sells for $4.99 will cost $8.59 – a whopping 72% increase.

Grocers, Labor andBusinessesDecrySpitzer’sNewTaxProposal January 31, 2007
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“Governor Spitzer has proposed a new bottle tax that every New Yorker will feel every time they go food shopping. Why should New Yorkers be forced to pay more for a bottle of apple juice than others, and why should they have to store those dirty empty bottles in their homes and be forced to haul them back to food stores in order to recycle them? Taxing our families and those on fixed incomes to pay for the latest Albany chemes just oesn’t make sense, especially when all we’re going to do is make curbside recycling more difficult an dlesse ffective,”said James Rogers, presidentand CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State.

“Governor Spitzer promised no new tax esand now he’s going back on that pledge,”said Rogers.

““Expanding the bottle law will be a job killer for New York State and comes at the worst possible time,”said Joseph Wojciechowski, president of Teamsters Local 812, vice president of the National Soft Drink and Brewery Conference and vice president of the New York City Central Labor Council. “We should focusour effort son improving recycling while lowering costs and creating jobs.”

The current bottle deposit law captures and recycles soda and beer bottles and cans, but ignores about 98 percent of the materials going into our landfills. The expansion proposed by Governor Spitzer will only capture another two-tenths of one percent of the waste stream.

Grocers, Labor and Businesses Decry Spitzer’s New Tax Proposal January 31, 2007
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“Expanding the deposit law is simply about raising money for the State off of our grocerybills,”said Rogers. “Our coalition supports Real Recycling Reform which will
make recycling more convenient, more effective and less costly. It just makes sense that if we make recycling easier by utilizing our already successful curbside and residential recycling programs –rather than forcing New Yorkers to haul more dirty bottles and cans back to food stores –more people will participate.”

New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform is a coalition of New York businesses, labor unions and retailers, who believe that New York should look to comprehensive solutions — Real Recycling Reform — and not an outdated, ineffective and costly idea like bottle law expansion.

 

Recycling For Communities Act Issue Summary

What does the Recycling for Communities Act (RCA) do?

  • The RCA creates two dedicated funds supported by a broad-based fee paid by businesses that produce or sell products in New York that are recyclable or may contribute to litter.
  • The RCA eliminates the current bottlelaw’s $125 million pricetag; directs new money to address the entire litter and recycling issue, not just the small fraction captured by the bottle bill; and eliminates duplication, inconvenience, and inefficiency of two competing recycling systems.
  • RCA revenues accumulate in funds administered by the New York State comptroller and the DEC commissioner and get distributed to New York communities in three ways:
    1. Sixty-five percent goes to municipal recycling programs in communities throughout the state to cost effectively collect and recycle all materials. The money will be divided among communities based on population and the amount of recycling the communities are doing.
    2. Thirty percent goes to community-based litter abatement programs –both litter prevention and litter control. This will allow communities to invest in additional programs and workers to clean up the streets and public areas of all litter. This money will be apportioned to communities based on their population, road and beach mileage and the amount of litter collected.
    3. Five percent will be used to promote recycling market development to ensure that collected materials will actually be reused or remade into new products.

Where Does the Money Come From?

  •  A dedicated fund will be developed through a fee levied on companies that produce, distribute, or sell any of a list of products that are recyclable or may contribute to litter.
  • Products subject to the fee includes food; groceries; beverages; tobacco products; cleaning products; toiletries; glass, metal, or plastic containers; newsprint and magazine paper stock; and paper products.
  • Companies that manufacture or sell these products pay a fee to the state ranging from 0.0225% to 0.03% of sales ($225 to $300 per $1 million); small retailers and eat-in restaurants are exempt. Since the rates are so low and broad-based, consumer prices will not be impacted.
  •  Based on this formula, the RCA will raise an initial $19 million to assist in the transition tothestate’s new,more efficient recyclingand litter control programs. Beginning in September 2006, $23 million a year will go to the RCA fund to build better recycling programs and cleaner communities.
  •  In addition, communities will benefit from revenue earned from materials formerly recycled through the bottle bill. Communities are projected to earn $24 million per year from aluminum cans alone.

What Are The Consumer Impacts of the RCA?

  • Consumers will benefit from the additional support for their local recycling and
    litter programs. Additionally, recycling will become less expensive and more
    convenient.
  •  Companies will pay modest fees on many items to raise RCA funds. The fee won’t havea significantimp acton prices because the fees are relatively small and spread over producers, distributors, and retailers. And, since these fees do not work like a sales tax, they won’t appear on checkout receipts.
  •  Consumers also benefit from the elimination of the beverage container deposit in 2007. This will eliminate paying the deposit and other deposit-related expenses and remove unsanitary bottles and cans from retail stores.
  • Most importantly, New Yorkers will benefit from a program which will:
  •  Conserve landfill space by diverting more solid waste to recycling;
  • Clean up roadways, beaches and other public spaces with dedicated litter abatement and prevention measures;
  • Create new recycling markets, enabling local solid waste programs to efficiently recycle materials.

Why Not The Bottle Bill?

  • The proposal to expand the bottle bill would cost consumers $328 million per year, complicate their lives, burden grocers, and do almost nothing for the environment.
  • Beverage containers average less than 9% of all litter and account for less than 2.5% of municipal waste generated in homes and businesses in NY; the RCA refocuses our efforts on the bigger picture and provides ongoing, dedicated funding.
  •  The RCA directs new money to the entire litter problem, not just part of it. When it passed in the early 1980s, the bottle bill was designed to reduce beverage container litter. While it deserves credit for its successes, New York has never developed a comprehensive approach to dealing with the other 90%+ of litter that the bottle bill ignores.
  •  The bottle bill was never intended as a recycling measure, though it raised awareness that beverage containers could be recycled. After the bottle bill passed, New York communities began offering curbside recycling and other source separation programs to keep a broad range of recyclables out of our overflowing landfills.
  • Since it is more efficient to collect all recyclables at once, rather than having two separate and competing systems (container redemption and community recycling), the RCA makes recycling easier for consumers and less expensive for communities. Further, giving communities access to valuable beverage container material like aluminum will reduce local program costs, lowering costs to taxpayers.

 

Myths and Facts About the Expanded Bottle Deposit Law

Myth

Expanding the Bottle Bill will improve recycling and be good for the environment.

Fact

Many experts believe that the bottle bill will have the opposite effect because it focuses New York’s recycling efforts on a small part of the problem and ignores the rest.

  • Beverage containers account for less than 2.5% of New York’s municipal solid waste.
  • at best, the expanded bottle law would increase the state’s recycling rate by less than 0.2%– a barely measurable change given today’s 30% overall rate.
  • Expanding the bottle bill is not cost-effective and thus will have a chilling effect on other recycling programs in communities around the state. The additional recycling would cost $3,900 per ton. For comparison, the cost to recycle material through a curbside program is typically less than $150 per ton.

Myth

The Recycling for Communities Act (RCA) is an industry smokescreen and won’t improverecycling.

Fact

Not true.

Industry groups rarely suggest“smokescreens”that impose new, broad-based fees on themselves. In fact, the RCA is a more cost effective way to improve both recycling and litter control while spreading the cost across all waste stream contributors. Significant and reliable new funding for recycling programs and markets will help communities move to higher levels of recycling as it has in other states with dedicated recycling funding programs.

Myth

Expanding the Bottle Bill will bring more money  into New York’s general fund.

Fact

Unclaimed deposits do not generate reliable revenue that will benefit the state. And, the cost to consumers from expansion far outweighs the potential gain.

  • The cost to operate the current bottle bill is $125 million and the cost of the expanded program would be an additional $190 million.
  • Increased costs would likely be passed on to consumers meaning an average increase of 10¢ per bottle of noncarbonated beverages, before the deposit.

Expansion would open up the borders to containers from other states. That fraudulent redemption would actually reduce the amount of unclaimed deposits, not increase it. One estimate is that unclaimed deposits would decline 45 percent from their current level (i.e., from $91 million to $50 million). Using Maine’sexperience,there duction would be even greater.

Myth

The RCA is “littertax” that creates government bureaucracy and removes producer
responsibility.

Fact

The bottle bill relies on approximately $125 million a year from consumers and businesses. The RCA shifts the burden to a broader range of producers, distributors and retailers in the form of a low, broad-based fee (which will not result in any price increases). Producers are responsible for providing additional funding, but recycling and litter control is put in the hands of the experts — existing community recycling programs, recyclers, and litter program coordinators.

Myth

Expanding the Bottle Bill will be good for all New Yorkers.

Fact

The list of groups supporting the more comprehensive option is diverse and extensive.

  • Retailers oppose expansion because the law is already costly for them in terms of space, sanitation, and labor. Even though it imposes new fees, retailers support the RCA because it focuses on more of the waste and litter problem.
  •  Many small businesses oppose expansion of the bottle bill because of the additional space it will require each store to dedicate to unsanitary refuse as opposed to products
    consumers want to purchase.
  •  Many unions oppose expanding the bottle bill because of the adverse impact it will have on economic growth. The RCA has the possibility to bring new jobs to recycling companies and communities since funding is provided to hire workers to recycle more materials and to clean-up roads, bridges and public areas.
  • Even some environmentalists and those managing county solid waste and recycling programs are opposed to expansion because it may actually hinder their ongoing efforts by removing markets for other recyclable products. The RCA will expand markets for recyclable goods.