Bottled water in less than 1 gallon bottles will have a refundable 5 cent deposit per bottle like beer and soda after October 31. A judge lifted an injunction against the deposits, part of the expanded state recycling bill, on Friday.
An odd coalition of bottled water companies, including Nestle and a small bottler owned by Riverkeeper founder Robert F Kennedy Jr, sued to stop implementation of the deposit in June, citing constitutional issues and a negative effect on curbside recycling.
Kennedy, whose Keeper Springs bottled water donates after-tax profits to the environment, blamed “the sugar lobby, and its indentured servants in the Legislature” for the exemption of waters with sugar added, which he said violated the equal protection clause. The suit also called the deposit “burdensome” for consumers, and claimed that a NY-specific UPC code would violate the interstate commerce clause. Riverkeeper calls the new deposit a “triumph for environmentalists.”
Under the new recycling law, 80% of $115 million in annual unclaimed deposits, which had previously been kept by distributors and bottlers, would go to the state. Since New York’s deposit bill went into effect, an estimated $2 billion in deposits have gone unclaimed.