Bottle and can collectors will be able to get deposits on plastic water bottles starting June 1.
Government is starting to get with green program
By Matt Townsend
As New Yorkers have become more concerned about global warming, pollution and sustainability, their elected officials have started to get the message.
The city and state have recently adopted several policies that encourage recycling and carbon emission reduction.
In the recently passed state budget, a revamped Returnable Container Act, also known as the bottle deposit law, was passed to include bottled water and for 80 percent of uncollected deposits an increase from zero percent under the old law to go back to the states general fund.
Its going to reduce litter and increase recycling, said Laura Haight, a senior environmental associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group, which worked on the laws passage for the past seven years.
The initial bottle deposit law passed in 1982 mandated a 5-cent deposit on soda and beer containers, and led to more than 90 billion bottles and cans being redeemed and then recycled to keep more than 6 million tons of glass, plastic and metal out of the states landfills and incinerators. The addition of bottled water will encourage more recycling of the 3 billion water containers sold in the state each year, according to Haight.
NYPIRG estimates that the 80 percent of uncollected deposits that will now go to state could generate as much as $115 million per year. Since the laws inception, the beverage industry has kept more than $2 billion in uncollected deposits. Adding revenue to the state coffers at a time of massive budget gaps made passage of the law easier.
The states deficit was significant, they really needed this money, Haight said.
Under the law, any store that sells a container with a deposit has to redeem it. Many large food stores, such as the Key Food on Avenue A and the Whole Foods Market on East Houston St., have machines that accept containers for recycling. The expanded bill will go into effect on June 1.
Go Green LES
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer launched Go Green two years ago to promote health and sustainability. His office launched Go Green LES last year, joining initiatives in East Harlem and Washington Heights, in coordination with residents and nonprofit organizations. So far, the coalition has helped create a cooking-oil recycling program (biodiesel), promoted greenmarkets and held a street fair last year with local food and green education.
Houston St. reconstruction
Lower East Side and East Village residents will see a direct effect from the federal governments American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package, when the revamping of Houston St. between Second Ave. and the F.D.R. Drive begins later this year.
A traffic lane will be removed on both sides of the street so sidewalks can be widened and bike lanes created. The city announced the $23.5 million project on March 30 as part of $261 million in transportation funding coming from the stimulus. Features will include two public plazas along Houston St. to coincide with the citys PlaNYCs open-space initiative. The projects estimated completion date is fall 2011.
More green taxis
The Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a measure in March to incentivize taxi fleet owners to buy more hybrid vehicles. Fleet owners can now charge a driver more to lease a hybrid than a non-hybrid, which the city believes will encourage them to replace their cabs with hybrids. The drivers will pay more to lease a taxi, but will save money on gas by driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
The incentives are part of Mayor Mike Bloombergs plan to turn the citys taxi fleet into hybrid vehicles as part PlaNYCs goal to reduce the citys carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Since the hybrid initiative was launched in 2007, more than 1,500 of the citys 13,000 taxis have become fuel-efficient.
The city passed an anti-idling law in February that reduces the amount of time from three minutes to one minute that a vehicle can idle in front of a public or private school building, in an effort to combat childhood asthma and cut carbon emissions. The law also expands enforcement of the law to the Parks and Sanitation departments.