If you’re set to bring back a big bag of deposit bottles or cans to the local supermarket or redemption center this week, wish yourself a happy 30th anniversary for doing so. It didn’t begin without controversy as New York’s bottle deposit law took effect on Monday, Sept. 12, 1983.
The law was supposed to begin on July 1, but the state Legislature delayed the implementation, as “it would conflict with the peak beverage selling months, causing numerous problems,” it was reported in The Daily Star of Friday, June 3.
Tom Bouton, manager of Bouton’s Fast Stop in Oneonta, said he was relieved for the extension and admitted the law would be a hassle, but said he thinks, “it’s a good law — we’ll just have to adapt to it.”
Bouton echoed the sentiments of several other local soft drink and beer distributors, saying he was uncertain about the exact details of how the bill would work. “The state hasn’t defined it very clearly for us,” he said.
The whole purpose of the law was to encourage recycling and reduce litter and disposal problems. Consumers were preparing to return marked containers for five cents each. At the start, this was for carbonated beverages only. More recently bottled water and non-carbonated beverage containers became eligible for the nickel deposit.
By August 1983, area beverage retailers began stocking returnable containers in preparation for Sept. 12, as New York became the ninth state with a deposit law. Consumers were warned that they’d see price increases in addition to the deposit because of increased handling costs for the retailers.
Gene Baker, co-manager of five Red Barrel convenience stores, said he was hoping to sell as much of his current inventory over the Labor Day weekend and then begin stocking the returnable containers. Baker was taking a “wait and see” attitude about how he’d handle the deposit law.