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NY looks into unclaimed beverage container funds.

NY looks into unclaimed beverage container funds

Following in the footsteps of Michigan, New York's governor Mario Cuomo recently issued an executive order to investigate the effectiveness of the state's Returnable Container Act as administered and enforced by the state's departments and agencies.

The newly appointed Moreland Act Commission will take testimony and study whether beverage container deposits unclaimed by consumers should be devoted to a public purpose.

"The consumers do not return all their beverage containers, and the beer and soda industry accumulates an estimated $80 million in unclaimed deposits each year," Cuomo said. "I have asked the commission t determine, as part of its analysis of the effectiveness of the law, whether the industry's retention of unclaimed deposits is consistent with the effective operation of the bottle law."

Cuomo also announced that he has appointed Robert Amdursky of New York City to Chair the commission, and named Frances Beinecke, Rhoda Karpatkin, Lucille Pattison and Robert Rich, Jr. to serve as members of the commission.

The governor directed the group to investigate the effectiveness of the Returnable Container Act, and study ways to improve its operation. The commission was also directed to determine whether any of the unclaimed deposits should go to the state and, if so, for what purpose those funds should be utilized. The governor has already proposed that this money be utilized for solid waste management efforts such as recycling and landfill closure.

Opposing the investigation, New York State Beer Wholesalers Assn. president Michael Vacek said, "The Legislature, when it created the bottle law, was fully aware that a certain percentage of containers would be unredeemed.

"It was the clear intention of the Legislature that revenue from unclaimed deposits would go toward offsetting costs associated with collecting, redeeming and disposing of more than 6 billion empty bottles and cans a year," Vacek continued.

NYSBWA Chairman Peter Certo agreed that the commission was unfairly singling out beer wholesalers.

"We feel that time and time again we have demonstrated to the Legislature and the Governor that the windfall profits which he alleged to exist are just not there," Certo said.

Vacek added that he too was concerned that "the Governor has chosen to single us out, especially when we have done everything in our power to make the bottle law a success and maintain a competitive market."

Meanwhile, Michigan, which has already passed such a law delegating 75 percent of unclaimed deposit money to an environmental cleanup fund, is waiting to see what kind of effect the legislation will have.

"It could cause a real bad precedent," said Russell Laird, legislative counsel for the Iowa Soft Drink Assn.

Slated to go into effect January 1, 1990, 75 percent of the money set aside for cleanup will go into a trust fund from which withdrawals cannot be made for 10 years. Starting in the year 2000, interest and new money may be used for cleanup efforts. Retailers may get their 25 percent at the end of each year, according to the act.
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Title Annotation:New York
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Oct 16, 1989
Words:503
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