In a win for the environment, New York will expand its deposit laws to include water bottles starting Oct. 31. A five-cent surcharge will be added to the cost of each water bottle sold, which customers can then return to stores for a refund. About 80 percent of unclaimed deposits will go to the state as much-needed revenue, resulting in some $115 million annually.
The law was originally intended to go into effect in June, but a coalition of bottled water companies filed suit in May, claiming that the expanded law was unconstitutional. That move put things on hold until April 2010 -- until a federal judge in August ruled that key components of the bill could still take place prior to next year. Last Friday, the injunction was lifted and the bill deemed ready to roll.
Obviously, money for state coffers isn't the only green this move will spur. Nationally, Americans buy an estimated 28 billion plastic water bottles annually. An estimated eight out of every 10 bottles will end up in a landfill. By giving people a monetary incentive to recycle, less waste will enter the landfill. Adding $2 to the cost of every pack of water bottles will also deter spending cash on something that's considered unnecessary for most people with access to municipal water.
As a former bottle hunter, I can attest that expanding the law to include water bottles will also bring in some much-needed revenue to individuals. I know of many people who take time out of their day to scour garbage bins for refundable bottles. This extra income, while small, does help.
New York joins Connecticut, Oregon, California, Maine and Hawaii in returns that include bottled water.