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  • Susan Russell

Urgent Support Needed to Pass NYS Environmental Bills

Aurorans for Climate and Environmental Sense (ACES) strongly encourages all citizens,

including Town and Village boards, to support two NYS bills targeting plastic waste: the Packaging Reduction &  Recycling Infrastructure Act, and a new, modernized Bottle Bill. The passage of these bills has the potential to save tax dollars, reduce plastic packaging, prohibit certain toxic chemicals in packaging, and vastly improve the state’s recycling system.

The plastic crisis continues to get worse, as plastic production is expected to triple by 2050, while only about 6% is actually recycled.  Recycling plastic is difficult because it is expensive to collect and sort. With thousands of different types of plastic in existence, all with a different chemical composition, plastics are unable to be melted down together. Furthermore, plastic degrades and becomes more toxic the more it is used. The harsh reality is that plastic is essentially trash, and it is everywhere - polluting our oceans, lakes, streets, parks, and communities.

Chemical recycling, once offered as a solution by the plastics industry, has been widely debunked and shown to be costly, ineffective, and inefficient.  The process, which involves breaking down waste material into their original chemical compounds, releases large amounts of toxins into the air that have been linked to serious health issues. Efforts to reduce plastic production and turn to more reusable and recyclable materials, such as paper, glass, and aluminum, are a far more sustainable solution.

The Packaging Reduction & Recycling Act aims to be the most comprehensive packaging reduction legislation in the country and represents a major step towards reducing plastic waste in NYS. Companies whose net annual income exceeds $1 million would be required to reduce plastic packaging by 50%, improve the management and recycling of their packaging waste, and help update existing recycling infrastructure.

These companies would now be responsible for the financial burden of collecting, sorting, and managing discarded packaging rather than NYS taxpayers. This shift is expected to save taxpayers and municipalities as much as $250 million annually.  Under this bill, chemical recycling would no longer be considered “recycling” and be reclassified as a manufacturing instead of a waste facility. Additionally, certain toxic chemicals commonly used in packaging would be banned, such as PFAS, heavy metals, formaldehyde and more.

Conjointly, the proposed modifications to New York’s “Bottle Bill” would allow for the expansion of recyclable material and incentivize recycling by raising the deposit from 5 to 10 cents, a fee that has not changed in 40 years. The handling fee would also increase from 3.5 to 6 cents per bottle returned, an adjustment that is desperately needed for redemption centers to remain open. Under the new legislation, wine bottles, liquor, distilled spirit coolers, and cider products would become returnable for redemption. The bill should encourage more recycling from consumers, reduce litter, and decrease the production of new plastic.

To support the passage of these bills, citizens are encouraged to write to Town and Village boards and our NYS Senator and Assemblyman. For more information about taking action, including links to email NYS representatives, visit

By Katie Archer

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