Capitol Notes

‘Bottle Bill’ compliance required again by June 3

New Yorkers amassing a collection of cans and bottles at their homes during the last two months should be able to cash in next week at the latest.

While the state has continued to collect the nickel deposits on eligible drink containers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the law requiring redemption centers, such as grocery stores, to accept the return of cans and bottles has not been enforced by state regulators. As a result, citing safety concerns and inadequate staff, many grocery stores have shut down their operations.

But the state Department of Environmental Conservation now expects redemption centers to take the necessary steps to resume the receipt of eligible containers by June 3, according to an online bulletin posted this week.

The state website calls on the facilities to implement appropriate social distancing practices and use masks when needed. The state also outlines a standard procedure for the safe handling of returned containers, which includes regular hand washing.

“It is important to remember that the redemption of containers is considered an essential service and is expected to continue,” reads the DEC site.

During the pandemic, the Times Union reports that specialized redemption centers and beverage stores have mostly remained open and very busy.

The 38-year-old “Bottle Bill” that imposed a nickel deposit on carbonated beverages, and later expanded to include water, is credited with promoting drastically higher levels of recycling. Environmental activists have also pushed to have the law expanded to cover more beverages and potentially raised to a dime.

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