To the editor:
New York has a chance to pass two bills that could significantly reduce the state’s plastic waste and improve its current recycling system: The Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (A5322/S4246) and the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill (A6353/S237A).
If passed, the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act would be the most progressive extended producer responsibility law in the country. The law would reduce packaging by 50 percent over 12 years, and remove 12 toxic chemicals from packaging — including PFAS, lead, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants.
It would also prevent “chemical recycling” — or incineration — to count as recycling.
New York City spends $448 million to export its waste out of the state. Some of this waste ends up at the Covanta incinerator in Newark, New Jersey, where it pollutes an environmental justice community. By shifting the responsibility of recycling costs from taxpayers to packaging companies, the law would also ensure investments in reuse and refill systems and funding to improve recycling.
The Bigger, Better Bottle Bill would expand the current law first passed in 1982. It would help reduce waste from common containers not currently under the law. To date, there are only nickel deposits on soda, beer and water. This bill would add non-carbonated containers like lemonade, iced tea, liquor and wine.
Moreover, the bottle bill would increase the deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, which has proven to increase recycling rates and reduce bottle waste in states that have passed similar laws. It would also increase the handling fee from 3 cents to 5 cents per bottle — an increase that would vastly improve the livelihoods of thousands of recyclers known as “canners.”
Passing both bills is crucial as they work together to enhance waste management in New York, leading to substantial waste reduction, improved recycling, and reduced landfill and incinerator use.