by Cat on August 6, 2010

Okay, it’s not wine–it’s wine bottles (and water, sports drink and beer bottles). New York is suffering from the same budget woes most states face, including my own state of Washington. There’s been a lot of discussion in both places about privatizing liquor sales and getting the state money by doing so. But that’s a one time solution.

There’s a better solution, and it’s one that keeps on giving: bottle redemption. Have you ever asked yourself “Who gets the deposit I pay when I buy a carton of soda (or beer)? I never did until I started reading the New York law.

Their deposit scenario works this way: retailers pay the distributor or deposit initiator at least a 5-cent deposit for each beverage container purchased. Consumers pay then pay them the deposit for each beverage container purchased. Consumers can return their empty beverage containers to a retailer or redemption center to get their deposit back. Retailers and redemption centers are reimbursed the deposit plus a 3.5-cent handling fee by the distributor or the deposit initiator for each empty beverage container returned. (In this case redemption centers pay out 5 cents and get 8.5 cents back–making it a profitable business for them.)

In New York, previously, all unclaimed deposits were kept by the beer and soda distributors who initiated the deposits on beverage containers. The 2009 amendments required that 80% of the unclaimed deposits be remitted to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance on a quarterly basis.

How much is that? In 2006 (before water and sport drink bottles were included), deposits collected totaled $289 million while $196 million were redeemed. That means the state would have collected $74.4 million! And that’s for only a 5 cent deposit. Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog recommends raising that deposit to 10 or 20 cents with the possibility of adding up to $200 million to the NY State budget.

I like it. I especially like it because my recycling company recently revised their policies and refuse to pick up glass–even beer and wine bottles. Washington isn’t a state where we can redeem our bottles, but it sure seems like a painless way to keep them out of landfills while adding to our state budget–which is in as much or more trouble than New York’s.

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