New York State had the best intentions when it enacted the Bottle Bill in 1982. The aim was to take plastic, glass and aluminum drinking containers out of landfills and reduce the cost of garbage collection and disposal for local municipalities by slapping a 5 cent surcharge on beverages at checkout counters. To get the nickels back, one was expected to return the containers after they were empty for refund of their deposit. For most of NYS, this works. In NYC, however, this well intentioned bill has paved the road to hell.
Now, competing scavengers trespass on our property, open up our trash and leave a mess behind. They congregate at supermarkets and hog up the redemption machines, causing families seeking to redeem only a few containers to leave in frustration. The sidewalks outside local beverage distributors have become nightmares for pedestrians to navigate and large quantities of bottles are sometimes even placed in the street, blocking parking spaces. NYC has had its own recycling program since 1989.
Recyclables, such as cans and bottles, are left at the curbside and picked up by the Department of Sanitation weekly. They are then sold by the City on the commodities market. It is required that every resident of the city participate or face fines.
Therefore, there is no reason for the Bottle Bill to still be in effect in NYC along with the recycling law. Abolish the Bottle Bill in NYC, and the problems of trespassing, street and sidewalk clutter and busted open bags hopefully become a thing of the past. And we’ll save money at the checkout counter as well.
It should be mentioned that trespassers who are really out to case a home for a future burglary attempt may pose as bottle collectors to gain access to an unsuspecting person’s property. For this reason alone, the Bottle Bill should be nixed.
The bottle collectors that roam our neighborhood are able-bodied and don’t mind handling trash for low pay. They could instead be put to work cleaning up streets and sidewalks and beautifying the neighborhood instead of contributing to quality-of-life problems.