History of New York’s Bottle Bill

In the summer of 1982, the New York State Assembly voted to enact a bottle bill.

State of New York

The bottle bill was identified as a great solution to reduce litter and ease the burden on municipal waste facilities. In 1983 the bottle bill was implemented, it included beer and malt beverages, soda, mineral water and wine coolers.

Right away the state saw it’s roadside litter and beverage container litter reduced by close to 70%. 

The State Assembly modernized the bill in 2009, when New York expanded their bottle bill to include plastic water bottles. This had a massive impact considering the state’s population and how much litter and solid waste PET water bottles accounted for. There have not been many major changes since to the material that is accepted in New York’s bottle bill. Containers that are still not accepted include: dairy products, wine and liquor, hard ciders, tea, sport drinks, juice and most energy drinks. 

New York has continued to adjust their handling fees paid to redemption operators. Steadily increasing handling fees combats inflation in the economy and helps offset the rising costs of redemption operations keeping the recycling economy stable. 

New York’s bottle bill reported it’s highest return rates in the 1980s and 1990s. Currently their beverage container recycling rates are around 65%. While this can certainly be improved on, this percentage doesn’t speak to the volume of material New York’s bottle bill diverts from the landfill and adds to the circular economy. Not to mention the recycling rate outperforms curbside recycling rates in the state and around the country two fold.

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