New York's Bottle Bill
Returnable Container Act (RCA)
The DEC will be amending New York's Bottle Bill Regulations, 6 NYCRR Part 367 - Returnable Beverage Containers. We held two virtual stakeholder meetings in September 2022 to obtain input regarding potential updates to the regulations. See the webinar presentation asking for input on the regulations. Both meetings were recorded and are available below:
- Wednesday afternoon, September 28, 2022 - play meeting recording
- Thursday evening, September 29, 2022 - play meeting recording
To provide written comments on the regulations:
Email: [email protected], include "Suggestions for Part 367" in the subject line of the email
Mail to: NYSDEC, Division of Materials Management, Attn: Recycling and Outreach Section, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-7253
New York's Returnable Container Act, more commonly referred to as the "Bottle Bill," requires a deposit of at least 5-cent deposit on carbonated soft drinks, beer and other malt beverages, mineral water, soda water, wine products (wine coolers) and water that doesn't contain sugar containers. Although commonly called the Bottle Bill, the Act includes more than bottles. A deposit is required on glass, metal, and plastic containers that hold less than one gallon or 3.78 liters.
Effectiveness of the RCA
Since the Act went into effect, redemption rates have been an average of 65 percent and beverage container litter has been reduced by 70 percent. A small deposit pays big dividends in conservation of energy and valuable resources. The act has helped:
- saved valuable materials from going to a landfill
- create a recycling ethic in NY
- keep parks and roadsides clean
- conserve energy
- recycle thousands of tons of plastic, glass, and aluminum
- recycled 5.5 billion plastic, glass, and aluminum beverage containers in 2020 totaling 241,505 tons; all at no cost to local governments
How New York's Bottle Bill Works
Deposit initiators collect at least a 5-cent deposit from each distributor or dealer on each beverage container sold to such distributors or dealers in New York.
Dealers, commonly referred to as "retailers", pay the distributor or deposit initiator at least a 5-cent deposit for each beverage container purchased.
Consumers pay the retailer the deposit for each beverage container purchased.
Consumers may then return their empty beverage containers to a retailer or redemption center to get their deposit back.
Retailers and redemption centers are reimbursed the deposit plus a 3.5-cent handling fee by the distributor or the deposit initiator for each empty beverage container returned.
The Law and Regulations
The New York State Returnable Container Act is in Article 27, Title 10 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), Sections 27-1001 to 27-1019.
The applicable regulations are at 6 NYCRR Part 367 (leaves DEC website).
The law was originally enacted on June 15,1982, and effective July 1, 1983, pursuant to Chapter 200 of the Laws of 1982. Laws of 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1997 made changes to the original law. Most recently, significant amendments made pursuant to Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2009 were enacted on April 7, 2009.
Types of Beverages Covered by NY's Bottle Bill
- Carbonated Soft Drinks, including Sparkling Water
- Carbonated Energy Drinks
- Carbonated Juice (anything less than 100% juice, containing added sugar or water)
- Carbonated Tea
- Soda Water
- Beer and Other Malt Beverages
- Mineral Water - Both carbonated and non-carbonated mineral water
- Wine Products
- Water which does not contain sugar, including flavored or nutritionally enhanced water
Types of Beverages Not Covered by NY's Bottle Bill
- Milk Products
- Wine, Liquor and Spirits
- Hard Ciders
- Non-Carbonated Tea
- Non-Carbonated Sports Drinks
- Non-Carbonated Juice
- Non-Carbonated Energy Drinks
- Beverages in Drink Boxes or Pouches
- Waters Containing Sugar
To determine if a water product has added sugars.
First, determine if the product is identified as a water through the use of symbols, letters or words. Then, check the nutrition label to see if a sugar has been added. If "Nutrition Facts" label indicates:
- "Sugars" is 0 grams, then the water requires a deposit
- "Sugars" is more than 0 grams, No deposit is required.
There may be limited exceptions to this generalization. Please contact DEC if you think "a beverage identified as a type of water to which a sugar has been added" does not conform to this general principle.
Types of Beverage Containers Included
- An individual, separate, sealed glass, metal, aluminum, steel or plastic bottle, can or jar;
- Containers less than 1 gallon or 3.78 liters, and
- Containers of beverages intended for use or consumption in New York.
A deposit initiator is the first bottler, distributor, dealer or agent to collect the refund value (deposit) on a beverage container sold in New York State.
The 2009 amendments allow for some options as to who may be the initiator. The deposit initiator may be:
- A bottler of beverages;
- A distributor of beverages in a beverage containers with an established refund value, if such distributor did not directly or indirectly purchase the container from a registered deposit initiator;
- A dealer who sells or offers for sale a beverage in a beverage container, if such dealer did not directly or indirectly purchase the container from a registered deposit initiator; or
- An agent acting on behalf of a registered deposit initiator.
** No one may sell a beverage container to anyone in NY unless the deposit on the beverage container is or has been collected by a registered deposit initiator.
** Note that "sale" means the act of selling or offering to sell, or distributing for use or consumption.
It does not matter which entity (bottler, distributor, dealer, agent) actually initiates the deposit, as long as it is initiated either before or when the beverage container is first sold or offered for sale in NY. If no one collects, or has already collected, the deposit on a beverage container, then such container must not be sold in NY.
When selling and/or purchasing beverages for sale in New York State, it needs to be clear to all parties as to who will be responsible for initiating deposits. It is strongly suggested that any agreements be in writing.
Beverage Container Requirements
No one may sell a beverage container in NY unless the container has a refund value of no less than 5 cents.
Beverage containers must be permanently and clearly marked or embossed with New York State deposit information:
- On metal containers - on the top of the container.
- On product label - front or back body label or on neck label.
- No metal containers with parts that are detachable in opening the container, unless the detachable part will decompose by photodegradation or biodegradation.
- Plastic loop holders (retainers) must be photodegradable or biodegradable or made of at least 90 percent post-consumer recycled high density polythene and indicate a resin identification code and must not have an opening greater than 1 3/4" in diameter.
- Printing must be at least 1/8" in height and indicate "NY" or "New York" and the amount of the deposit amount (Example: NY 5 cents or NY 5¢).
- The label must be complete, legible, indelible and easily visible. New York can be listed with the other deposit states.
- No beverage container may have the refund value indicated only on the bottom of the container.
- No beverage container may have the refund value indication on a part of the container which is removed upon opening including crown caps, screw caps, foil covers.
- Rubberstamping is NEVER an acceptable labeling method.
- "Ink-jetting" or "video-jetting" has not been considered an acceptable method for applying the indication of refund value to containers because it has never met all of the labeling requirements in the law and regulations. However, if there is an "ink-jetting" process that meets all such requirements, it may be permissible. Please contact DEC if you believe an "ink-jetting" process conforms to all such requirements, so that DEC may make a determination as to whether it is indeed acceptable.
- Alternative labeling is acceptable only for beverages not manufactured in the United States.
- A securely or permanently affixed separate label can be used to properly label, but must be applied by the deposit initiator, which will likely be the manufacturer, bottler, or brand owner for whose exclusive account private label beverages are bottled, canned, or otherwise packaged.
- A separate label should never be applied if the deposit has not been collected by a registered deposit initiator.
- A dealer or distributor, who is not the deposit initiator, should not apply these separate labels.
NOTE: Please see the definition of "private label beverage" below.
Labeling for water
The New York State Department of Health regulations, 10 NYCRR 5-6 relates to bottled water labeling. All New York State Department of Health certified bottled water facilities must follow the policies, procedures and regulations as they relate to the certification of their facility(ies). Therefore, labels will must reviewed by the Department of Health to ensure compliance with Subpart 5-6. For the most up-to-date information on this topic or if you have any label certification questions, please contact the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Water Supply Protection at (518) 402-7650.
Private Label Beverages
The beverage industry may use the term private label beverage differently than the Returnable Container Act. New York's law defines private label beverages as: "Beverages purchased from a beverage manufacturer in beverage containers bearing a brand name or trademark for sale at retail directly by the owner or licensee of such brand name or trademark; or through retail dealers affiliated with such owner or licensee by a cooperative or franchise agreement." ECL § 27-1011(1)(a).