When the New York state government implemented the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill last year, the goal was to increase revenues to the state's general fund.
So far, supporters are labeling it a success.
According to a news release from the New York Public Interest Research Group, after the first year of implementation, the state has collected more than $120 million in unclaimed deposits from the expanded bottle bill. The state projected bringing in $118 million.
Above and at right, Ken Markes, a recycling worker for Bartyzel’s of Amsterdam, empties a large bag of cans into a crushing unit making the cans into crushed metal cubes Wednesday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
"Consumers have adjusted easily to the expanded bottle bill and it is already delivering on its promise of a cleaner and healthier environment," Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG, said in the release.
According to Chris Bartyzel, owner of Bartyzel Inc., a beverage distributor, the state's fundraising has come at his expense and the expense of similar companies.
Bartyzel said he was against the measure when it passed Oct. 31, 2009, and his opinion of it remains unchanged.
The bottle bill added water bottles to the list of beverage containers that required a 5-cent refundable deposit. Beverage companies also are required to transfer 80 percent of unredeemed deposits to the state general fund.
Previously, beverage companies kept the unclaimed deposits.
"That's the only thing that really affects us," he said.
Bartyzel said the money brought in from keeping the unredeemed deposits helped pay for the handling of the bottles and cans his employees pick up from bottle collectors. At the Bartyzel offices in Amsterdam, the empties are crushed in a machine and sent out for recycling.
"There are a lot of expenses that go ahead with the handling of the cans and that was supposed to be used for that," he said.
It also increased the handling fee for retailers and redeemers to 3.5 cents per container. The previous 2-cent handling fee had been in effect since 1997.
But with only 20 percent of the income from unredeemed bottles and cans, he said he made up for it in the form of a price increase in what he charges to retailers for his products. Bartyzel's prices increased from 75 cents to $2 per case.
Bartyzel said about 75 percent of the price increase was because of the increase in the bottle bill.
"We get hit, but it rolls down," Bartyzel said. "We deal with it. Like we deal with anything they pass. We try to talk to them and say there are better ways, but when they see money in front of their eyes, they grab it."
NYPIRG also reported that 93 percent of stores surveyed were complying with the law's redemption requirements and most of the water bottles sold were properly labeled. Also, the number of redemption centers increased by 113 in 2009 and another 131 were added by the end of October.
For the distributors, however, business is continuing unchanged.
"We're not going to absorb that increase," Bartyzel said. "It just gets passed along to the public. They can say it's a tax on big business, but the public is the one that eventually pays for it."
Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.