New York court approves expanded green bottle bill

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bottled water International bottled water association

A federal judge has unblocked the passage of the expanded New York State bottle bill following a legal challenge from beverage companies.

The International Bottled Water Association, Nestle Waters North America and Polar Corp had challenged the environmental bill in May alleging that certain provisions in it were unconstitutional.

Among the provisions in the update of the 1982 bill are the inclusion of bottled water and the requirement for beverage companies to return 80 per cent of unclaimed bottled water, worth $115m a year, to the state. Previously, distributors and bottlers had kept all of the funds from unclaimed deposits.

The bill also includes changes to the infrastructure for collecting and recycling bottles and cans.

Go ahead

Last week Judge Deborah Batts, rolled back the injunction from the beverage industry, ruling that most of the provisions in the bill can go into effect immediately, including the requirement to return 80 per cent of unclaimed bottles.

The judge also ruled that the bottled water industry must comply with the expanded bottled bill by October 22, 2009 unless they can demonstrate that compliance would be impossible.

Batts said the challenge from the bottled water industry was “walking on unusually inhospitable legal terrain”​ and that “it is the Court’s expectation that [bottled water companies] are actively working to achieve compliance”.

Industry reaction

The American Beverage Association expressed its disappointment at the decision taken by the US District Court Judge.

In a statement, the trade association said: “Bottle bills are not the answer to addressing solid waste issues. Rather, they are simply another tax on consumers.

“Furthermore, deposit systems are inefficient and ineffective, and do little to help the environment as they target such a small part of the waste stream.”

Nestle Waters North American president Kim Jeffery also criticised the bill saying “its gaping holes and sweetheart deals will hinder recycling.”

Laura Haight, senior environmental associate for the New York Public Interest Research Group, expressed support for the legal decision.

She said: “We are delighted that the court has lifted its injunction and the Bigger Better Bottle Bill can now move forward with its promise of making our communities cleaner and healthier, creating new green jobs, and generating new revenue for New York.”

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