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ALBANY, N.Y. -- A coalition of New York state grocers, labor groups, and other businesses is preparing to do battle against a new grocery tax proposed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer in yesterday's budget announcements, in an effort to get him to focus efforts on what the group calls "real recycling reform" -- making recycling easier and less expensive by expanding the state's already successful curbside and residential recycling programs, thereby getting more people to participate in them.
According to the coalition, known as New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform, the proposal to expand the bottle deposit law to include almost every item in a store's beverage aisle, including children's juice drinks, athletic drinks, bottled waters, and iced tea, "will come at a huge cost to consumers" – as much as $337 million – "and severely damage New York state's economy."
"Why should New Yorkers be forced to pay more for a bottle of apple juice than others, and why should they have to store those dirty empty bottles in their homes and be forced to haul them back to food stores in order to recycle them?" asked James Rogers, president and c.e.o. of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State. "Taxing our families and those on fixed incomes to pay for the latest Albany schemes just doesn't make sense, especially when all we're going to do is make curbside recycling more difficult and less effective."
Rogers added that Spitzer had reneged on his promise of no new taxes.
"Expanding the bottle law will be a job killer for New York state and comes at the worst possible time," said Joseph Wojciechowski, president of Teamsters Local 812, v.p. of the National Soft Drink and Brewery Conference, and v.p. of the New York City Central Labor Council. "We should focus our efforts on improving recycling while lowering costs and creating jobs."
The current New York bottle deposit law captures and recycles soda and beer bottles and cans, but doesn't cover approximately 98 percent of the materials going into landfills. The proposed expansion of the law would only capture another two-tenths of 1 percent of the waste stream, notes the coalition, which believes that recycling programs should also be available at such public places as beaches or parks for greater consumer convenience.