The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced a statewide multi-agency effort to help prevent returnable container schemes – bottle bill fraud – that defraud the state of millions of dollars each year.
It’s hoped this new effort will help uncover practices that prevent bottles and cans without deposits from being redeemed, thus reducing funds that support environmental and other state initiatives.
This new effort will bring together the expertise of multiple state agencies, including law enforcement and technical expertise from the State Department of Taxation and Finance, Department of Agriculture and Markets, State Liquor Authority, and others to work collaboratively on collecting and interpreting data, auditing records, inspecting and certifying redemption and counting equipment, investigating complaints, and preventing or prosecuting fraudulent activities.
New York’s Returnable Container Act, known as the Bottle Bill, is one of the State’s most efficient and successful recycling programs. The Bottle Bill improves litter control, provides relief to overburdened municipal recycling systems, and increases beverage container recycling in New York. Recyclables collected through this program are readily returned for manufacturing of containers and other commodities.
The law requires a deposit of at least five cents on containers for carbonated soft drinks, beer and other malt beverages, mineral water, soda water, wine products and water that doesn’t contain sugar. A deposit is required on glass, metal, and plastic containers that hold less than one gallon or 3.78 liters.
The Bottle Bill captures an average of five billion beverage containers each year with 250,000 tons of plastic, glass, and aluminum recycled. Since the law went into effect, redemption rates averaged 65 percent, well above the recycling rate for most other packaging and products, and beverage container litter was reduced by 70 percent. These beverage containers are no longer littering roads or waterways and get recycled into new packaging and products.