A new law in New York would make a major change to alcohol and wine sales across the state. A bill that is currently in the state Senate proposes to add wine and alcohol bottles and cans to the list of deposit containers.
New York currently requires a deposit on certain bottles in order to encourage recycling,
New York's Returnable Container Act requires at least a 5 cent deposit on carbonated soft drinks, beer and other malt beverages, mineral water, soda water, water and wine cooler containers.
The New York State Department of Conservation says that 70 to 80 percent of bottles are returned and beverage container litter has been reduced by 75 percent since the New York State Returnable Container Act went into effect. People who chose not to return their bottles and just toss them create opportunities for bottle and can collectors to make some money. I've seen many people bring shopping carts of bottles and cans, which I assume they've collected from various places, into Wegmans to collect the money someone else threw out.
Bottles and cans that do not fall under New York's current bottle deposit law are:
- Milk Products
- Wine and Liquors
- Hard Ciders
- Non-Carbonated Tea
- Non-Carbonated Sports Drinks
- Non-Carbonated Juice
- Non-Carbonated Energy Drinks
- Drink Boxes or Pouches
- Waters Containing Sugar
The 5-cent deposit is required on both refillable and nonrefillable bottles or cans that are glass, metal, and plastic that hold less than one gallon or 3.78 liters under current law.
There is money to be made from bottle and can deposits,
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.
Before 2009, all unclaimed deposits were kept by the beer and soda distributors who initiated the deposits. Now, 80% of the unclaimed deposits must be paid quarterly to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. The 80 percent cut that New York State gets turns out to be a massive amount of money. In 2022, the state made $128 million from bottle and can deposits.
New Bill Would Require Deposits On Wine And Liquor Containers
Senate Bill S237, which is sponsored by Senator Rachel May, would require a deposit on wine alcohol containers,
Relates to returnable bottles; adds wine, liquor, distilled spirit coolers, and cider and wine products to the definition of "beverage"; provides that beginning April 1, 2026, the handling fee will be six cents for each beverage container accepted by a deposit initiator from a dealer or operator of a redemption center.
Previous versions of the bill were introduced during the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 legislative sessions. The bill is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.