Beverage Industry

Judge modifies New York Bottle Bill injunction

August 18, 2009

U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts (Southern District of New York) modified the preliminary injunction order granted on May 29 to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and other plaintiffs, including Nestle Waters North America and Polar Beverages, which enjoined the state of New York from implementing all provisions of the recently enacted bottle bill amendments. The bill amendments were originally scheduled to become effective June 1, 2009. The judge’s August 13 order lifts the original injunction, and allows most of the amendments to the bottle bill to be implemented immediately for all products except bottled water. The injunction on the provision that would have required a New York specific UPC for all beverages remains in effect.
 
The May 29 preliminary injunction order set an April 1, 2010, effective date for the bottle bill amendments. While noting that the original June 1, 2009, effective date for bottled water “was short,” Judge Batts has set an Oct. 22 hearing date for IBWA and other plaintiffs to show cause why the due process requires a continuation of the injunction.
 
Nestle Waters North America President Kim Jeffery issued the following statement regarding a legislative solution: "National experience has shown that effective bottle deposit laws are based on four principles. First, deposits must apply to all beverages, including sports drinks, teas, juices, and energy drinks. Second, the law must make recycling convenient by allowing consumers to return bottles to any retail or redemption center. Third, handling fees must remain reasonable and not burden consumers with hidden costs that they will never get back. Finally, the law must dedicate funding to support community recycling programs. The current New York Bottle Bill fails these tests, and its gaping loopholes and sweetheart deals will hinder recycling.
 
"We remain committed to working with Governor Paterson, the New York State Legislature, environmentalists, consumer advocates and recycling experts to strengthen the current law. Governor Paterson must not miss this opportunity to make this new bottle bill work for New Yorkers."
 
IBWA also continues to seek a revision to the provision of the bottle bill amendments that exempts water products to which sugar has been added. It says the key provisions of the amended bottle bill would: add bottled water to the beverages subject to the 5 cent deposit, increase the handling fee from 2 cents to 3.5 cents, and allow the state to keep 80 percent of the unclaimed deposits (the remaining 20 percent goes to the company).