A proposal is circulating in Albany regarding the expansion of New York’s Bottle Bill to include wine, liquor, distilled spirit coolers, and cider and wine products to the definition of a “beverage.” If enacted, beginning April 1, 2025, those containers would be added to the bottle bill and on April 1 2026, it would increase the deposit from .05 to .10 on any beverage container accepted by a redemption center.
Dave Schultzer, owner/operator of Bellport Cold Beer & Soda, on Station Road in Bellport, recently took his first trip to Albany with the New York State Association of Beverage Centers, a statewide trade association representing independent beverage centers, on which he serves on the board.
“The reason we were up in Albany talking about it isn’t so much that we are for or against the changes,” Schultzer said. “It’s the implementation of the changes and the fact that the current structure of the 40-year-old bottle bill needs to be reexamined before they expand and change the current bottle bill.”
Schultzer explained that while the public may think of the process in a simple format of exchanging a bottle for coins, there are many questions and issues beyond this, including placement and use of materials, storage, where the bottles are being accepted, and reimbursement methods and state-to-state differences, to name just a few. With all of these moving parts in place, Schultzer and his colleagues aim to ensure that the bill is not being amended without due diligence and an understanding of how people and businesses will be impacted.
He acknowledged that, ultimately, there are both pros and cons to the proposal: cleaner streets, increased recycling, and the ability for people to obtain a second income source by redeeming, are some of the benefits. However, liquor stores with minimal space and resources will likely oppose the bill, or at least voice concerns about the increased volume of materials this expansion would yield.
Schultzer said his team is lobbying with the priority being to encourage lawmakers to thoughtfully consider various angles and opinions that affect peoples’ livelihoods before implementation.
The goal right now is to gather information and ideas and stop the bill from being amended too quickly without fair representation. While the proposal is in early stages and no changes would be instilled until 2025, the NYSABC will continue to bring people on board to present insights and remain present amongst state officials.
“There has to be a phase-in. While they’re writing these amendments, there has to be people in the room who are part of the industry, not just politicians who don’t understand how it works, because on the base level, everybody just sees nickel in, nickel out, and game over,” Schulzter explained. “We want a seat at the table. We’d like to have somebody from our organization in on the meetings. We met with eight or nine lawmakers, including two from Long Island who heard us out, so it was a very positive couple of days in Albany.”