NJ considers deposits for bottles, cans

May 9, 2008 1:14:07 PM PDT
New Jerseyans may soon pay as much as 20 cents extra when buying beverage bottles and cans. The Assembly environment committee is slated Monday to discuss a 10 cent deposit for bottles and cans less than 24 ounces and 20 cents for larger ones up to 3 liters.

The bill would apply to juice, sport drinks, water, soda, wine and beer containers.

Consumers would get the money back by returning the container to newly created redemption centers or to retailers.

The bill also would let the state keep uncollected deposits and use the money for environmental projects such as land preservation, litter cleanup and park beautification. New York has had as much as $80 million in annual unredeemed deposits.

"We can get some money back into the state, which right now we're in dire need of, and secondly help keep New Jersey green," said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen.

Another sponsor, Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, called the plan "an excellent way to protect the environment and for everyone to participate."

New Jersey's recycling rate has drooped from 40 percent seven years ago to 34 percent.

Soft drink manufacturers, wholesalers and convenience store operators have opposed similar bills in other states, and New Jersey businesses are preparing to mount opposition, describing the deposit as a tax.

"We don't see the need, in part because a tax is the last answer and in part because of the significant hassle imposed by this bill," said Jim Leonard, a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce vice president.

He said increased recycling and litter awareness and education should be the first step.

"The answer to all ideas and programs can't always be let's add a tax," Leonard said.

Vainieri Huttle said she would work to ease business concerns, and Greenstein said the deposit cannot be called a tax because people can get their money back.

"It's an upfront fee," she said.

New Jersey would be the 12th state with such a law, joining California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont.


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