The bigger, better bottle bill makes a great deal of sense. In the first place, it’s silly that a piece of plastic with a soda label on it gets recycled, whereas the same piece of plastic with a water label on it likely goes to the landfill. In the second place, it’s sillier that unclaimed nickels — deposits collected by retailers but not claimed by customers — go to the bottlers and not, say, New York State.
It makes so much sense that it isn’t going to happen, barring an extremely unusual turn of events, as long as the current powers that be — Majority Leader Joe Bruno & Co. — power the New York State Senate. You see, the bigger, better bottle bill would
require bottlers to return unclaimed deposits to the state’s environmental fund — an estimated $100 to $190 million per year — to provide new funding for parks, recycling programs, waste clean-up and other programs.
And the New York State Senate is opposed in principle to parks, recycling, and waste clean up, right? Wrong! The New York State Senate is in principle in favor of this —
In 2007, [the Anheuser-Busch Cos., the Food Industry Alliance, Coca-Cola Co., the Beer Wholesalers Association and the Bottlers Association] donated more than $350,000 to campaign coffers. Of that, around $300,000 went to Senate Republicans, who have consistently blocked passage of the expanded bottle bill since it was proposed in 2002.
Albany is a quaint and simple burg, easily understood. As the Albany dilect is easily translated:
“While we support efforts to promote recycling, expansion of the bottle bill would be prohibitive to consumers. In addition, it would increase costs for supermarket, convenience stores and bottle distributors, who would no longer be allowed to retain unclaimed deposits,” said Bruno spokesman Scott Reif.
In May 2007, Bruno flew to New York City for a $5,000-per-head fundraiser hosted by bottle bill opponents, which raised funds for the Senate GOP campaign committee.
The fundraiser helped stopped progress of the bill in its tracks, according to advocates.
So let’s get specific about contributions —
Opponents of a new bottle deposit bill donated to:
Senate Republicans $302,100,
Assembly Republicans $31,450
Assembly Democrats $17,875
Senate Democrats $12,850
That’s a total of 7,285,500 bottles and cans left by the roadside or buried in landfills. All those nickels YOU didn’t take the time to recover, going straight into politician’s
pockets er, campaign chests.