Recycling advocacy groups met recently to push a bill to expand the five-cent bottle deposit in New York State to include non-carbonated beverages and sports drinks. Now a coalition of bottled water companies is suing New York to block the expanded bottle deposit law scheduled to take effect next month, arguing that the law, which imposes a deposit fee on bottled water sold in New York State, is unconstitutional, reports the New York Times.
The coalition includes Nestle Waters North America, industry trade group International Bottled Water Association, and Keeper Springs, a small bottler owned by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental advocate.
The new law requires distributors to collect a 5-cent deposit per bottle of water, but companies that bottle water must affix a new universal product code (UPC) label to bottles sold in New York. The water companies argue that the new UPC label is a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause because the language of the bill excludes any drink to which sugar has been added, according to the New York Times article.
In addition, the lawsuit charges that the labeling requirement violates the Constitution’s interstate commerce protections because the law seems to ban companies from selling the New York-labeled bottles in other states, according to the article.
Kim Jeffery, CEO, for Nestle Waters North America, issued a statement saying the company supports a bottle bill that “promotes a convenient and comprehensive recycling program, but the current law actually hurts community-based recycling efforts by removing a critical revenue source from curbside recycling.”
Jeffery also states that New York’s Returnable Container Act (“Bottle Bill”) generates funds that would be earmarked by Albany for unrelated items rather than community recycling programs, and gives a competitive advantage to non-carbonated, sugar-filled drinks over healthier options like bottled water.