Environmentalists push Hochul to help ‘canners’ with 5-cent increase in bottle deposits

Boom times might be coming to so-called “canners” in New York as environmentalists pressure Gov. Kathy Hochul to include a proposal in the upcoming state budget to double deposits paid by New Yorkers buying beverages from 5 to 10 cents.

“Including [this idea] will bolster the state’s efforts to reduce litter, enhance recycling, create jobs, lift up canners in disadvantaged communities, expand equity, and ease consumer participation,” hundreds of environmental groups argued in a Nov. 21 letter to Hochul.

Supporters also want Hochul to make wine and liquor containers redeemable for a dime alongside the soft drinks, water and beer containers covered by the current state law approved in 1983.

And the letter claims that by increasing the value of billions of beverage containers per outstanding legislation, Hochul would fuel a “boon” for New Yorkers who make their living by recycling while also helping Mother Earth in the long term.

“For decades, canners, many of whom are among New York’s most marginalized, have been driving the state’s most effective recycling system, as their compensation has lagged woefully behind the cost of living. It’s time they get the raise they deserve,” Ryan Castalia, executive director of Sure We Can, said Monday.

Supporters want to make wine and liquor containers redeemable for a dime.
Luis E. Velez
Beer bottles.
Soft drinks, water and beer containers are covered for deposits by the current state law approved in 1983.
Luis E. Velez

“We have to work harder and recycle double the amount to buy the same things. That’s why we’re asking to raise the deposit because we need it,” added Jose Marin, a full-time canner and board member at the group.

A range of environmental, academic, religious and local groups have signed onto the letter, such as the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Pratt Institute Department of Math and Science, Riverside Church and Park Slope Neighbors.

The Hochul administration did not commit to including the proposal in the state budget that she will propose in mid-January ahead of the April 1 deadline for a deal with state lawmakers.

“Governor Hochul is committed to protecting our environment and fighting climate change, and will review all budget requests,” the spokeswoman told The Post Monday.

But bottle boosters are optimistic Hochul will back their cause considering her past support for recycling initiatives like an unsuccessful effort earlier this year to make packaging manufacturers responsible for the waste made by their products.

“We’d love to get it into the budget, but if not, I think we will have a lot of support for it in the Legislature to pass it,” said state Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse), who currently sponsors legislation on the matter alongside Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Suffolk).

Kathy Hochul.
Advocates are optimistic Gov. Kathy Hochul will back their cause considering her past support for recycling initiatives.
Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

“The fact that she’s approachable and interested in working collaboratively with the Legislature will help,” May added about the newly elected Democratic governor she supported on the campaign trail.

Advocates note other states like Connecticut, Maine, California and Oregon have already made moves to increase bottle deposits from 5 cents while expanding the types of containers subject to a deposit from New Yorkers at the cash register.

“New York’s bottle bill has been one of the most sensible and effective environmental policies in the history of New York. But for it to continue to be effective at preventing litter and reducing our solid waste burden, we need to make sure it is more up-to-date with expanded categories of returnables and increased deposits,” Kate Kurera, deputy director of Environmental Advocates NY, said Monday.

“We hope the Governor and Legislature make this a priority in the upcoming year. Now is the time to act,” Kurera added.