New Poll Shows Strong Support for NY's Bottle Bill and Proposed Reforms

February 12, 2004

Container Recycling Institute
Environmental Advocates of New York
Natural Resources Defense Council
New York Public Interest Research Group

Press Release

New Poll Shows Strong Support for NY's Bottle Bill and Proposed Reforms

(Albany) Advocates for expanding New York's beverage container deposit law (known as the "bottle bill") today released the results of a poll of New York voters' attitudes toward the bottle bill and proposed reforms.

The telephone survey of 800 randomly sampled registered voters in New York State was conducted in January by Public Policy Associates, a national research firm based in Lansing, Michigan. The survey has a margin of error of (+/-) 3.5 %.

The poll was designed to gauge public response to reforms proposed in the "Bigger, Better Bottle Bill," A.3922-A/S.1696-A, sponsored by Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli and Senator Kenneth LaValle.

The poll's key findings included:

  • 84% of New York voters support the current bottle-deposit law;
  • 70% support expanding the law to include non-carbonated beverages (such as bottled water, juice, sports drinks and iced tea); and,
  • 86% support the state taking back the unclaimed deposits from the beverage industry to fund environmental programs.

"Support for these measures is robust across all the measured subgroups," said Jeffrey D. Padden, president of Public Policy Associates. "Women and men, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, young and old, people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and income levels, from across the state, strongly support the current law and these proposed reforms."

The poll was commissioned by Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY) and developed in conjunction with the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).

"The strong public response to these reforms exceeded our expectations," said David Higby, EANY's solid waste project director. "New Yorkers understand that the bottle bill benefits our environment and has made our state cleaner."

"New Yorkers have sent a Valentine's message to our state law-makers," said Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with NYPIRG. "New Yorkers love the bottle bill, and they support making it bigger and better."

"Bottle bills have historically enjoyed widespread public support," said Pat Franklin, executive director of CRI and a nationally renowned expert on container deposit laws. "This poll confirms that, what holds true in other states, holds true for New York as well."

"With state and local governments facing huge funding gaps, law-makers would be remiss to overlook the revenue from taking back unclaimed deposits," said Mark Izeman, senior attorney with NRDC. "This poll shows there is overwhelming public support for this reform, which would generate nearly $180 million a year for environmental programs in New York."

Other findings include:

  • 78% of those surveyed agree that the bottle bill has made New York cleaner, and 81% agree that curbside recycling is "not enough" and that we need the bottle-deposit program to control litter;
  • only 19% of New Yorkers know that the beverage industry keeps the unclaimed deposits when bottles and cans are not returned; 29% think the stores that sell these beverages keep the unclaimed deposits and 23% think the money already goes to the state;
  • 62% of New Yorkers believe that we are spending "too little" on protecting the environment, consistent with national polling data;
  • nearly half the respondents (48%) said that a candidate's position on the bottle bill reforms would be important to their vote, and of those, most were people who support these reforms;
  • When asked to describe the benefits of the bottle bill in their own words, people most frequently mentioned environmental benefits (36%), litter control (24%), and recycling and reducing waste (17%).

More than 350 groups, local governments and businesses have endorsed the "Bigger, Better Bottle Bill," which would expand New York's existing law to include non-carbonated beverages and would require the beverage industry to turn over unclaimed deposits to the State Environmental Protection Fund to support recycling and environmental programs.

According to CRI's estimates, the "Bigger, Better Bottle Bill" would capture up to 2.6 billion additional bottles and cans a year, and the unclaimed deposits would provide more than $179 million a year to fund environmental programs. Advocates are calling on the Assembly, Senate and Governor to adopt these reforms this year.

The full report is available on-line at:
www.eany.org/reports/index.html
www.nypirg.org
www.container-recycling.org
www.publicpolicy.com