TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to the number
of reverse vending machines required for mandatory acceptance of empty
This bill would revise the number of reverse vending machines
(RVMs) that are required of certain businesses to redeem empty
beverage containers, based on the square footage of the store.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill would amend
Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) § 27-1007(1) (b) to adjust the
number of RVMs that are required based on the square footage of a
business that sells beverages subject to the New York State
Returnable Container Act. Businesses with at least 40,000 but less
than 60,000 square feet would be required to install two instead of
three RVMs. Businesses with at least 60,000 but less than 85,000
square feet would be required to install three instead of four RVMs.
Businesses with at least 85,000 square feet would be required to
install four instead of eight RVMs.
This section would also clarify that such square footage thresholds
are calculated on the area devoted to the display of merchandise for
sale to the public, and not the entire footprint of the building.
Back room storage areas, for example, would not be included in the
Similarly, section 1 would exempt from the RVM requirements any
business that devotes no more than 5% of its floor space to the
display and sale of consumer commodities, as that term is defined by
Agriculture and Markets Law § 214-h.
Finally, Section 1 would exempt from the RVM requirements any business
that obtains a waiver from the Commissioner of Environmental
Conservation that authorizes the use of alternative technology. Any
such technology would be required to determine if a container is
redeemable, accumulate information regarding containers redeemed, and
issue legal tender, or a scrip, receipt, or other form of credit for
the refund value, that can be exchanged for a period of not less than
sixty days without requiring the purchase of other goods.
Section 2 of the bill would provide for an immediate effective date.
The Returnable Container Act, originally enacted by Chapter 200 of the
Laws of 1982, was substantially amended by Part SS of Chapter 59 of
the Laws of 2009 effective June 1, 2009.
Those amendments replaced ECL § 27-1007, which provided for the
mandatory acceptance of empty beverage containers presented for
redemption of the
deposit. The new ECL § 27-1007, also requiring mandatory acceptance,
includes mandates for the installation of RVMs at any business that
is part of a chain engaged in the same general field of business
which operates ten or more stores in the State under common ownership.
ECL § 27-1007(1) (b) requires eight RVMs for any such chain store that
has an area of at least 85,000 square feet; four RVMs for at least
60,000 but less than 85,000 square feet; and three RVMs for at least
40,000 but less than 60,000 square feet.
ECL § 27-1003(12) defines "reverse vending machine" as an automated
device that uses a laser scanner, microprocessor, or other technology
to accurately recognize the universal product code (UPC) on beverage
containers to determine if the container is redeemable and
accumulates information regarding containers redeemed, including the
number of such containers redeemed, thereby enabling the reverse
vending machine to accept containers from redeemers and to issue a
scrip or receipt for their refund value.
The 2009 amendments to the Returnable Container Act
recognize the important role RVMs play in implementation of the
statute. Initial experience with the RVM requirements, however,
indicates that some modification of them would be wise and cost
RVMs are commonly used by retail stores and redemption centers to meet
their obligations to accept empty beverage containers subject to the
Act. The machines provide convenience to the store and the customer
who returns the empty containers to redeem the deposit. By requiring
the installation of eight, four or three RVMs, depending on the
square footage of the business, the 2009 amendments mandate a
substantial increase in the deployment of RVMs.
The installation of eight RVMs is a substantial undertaking requiring
a significant amount of floor space.
The cost of each RVM ranges from approximately $15,000 for a
refurbished machine to $30,000 for a new machine. Therefore, for the
largest stores, the 2009 requirement were expected to impose a cost
range of $150,000 to $240,000 for the machines alone. Experience with
implementation is showing, however, that many stores cannot currently
accommodate eight machines in a location convenient to the customer
because of space constraints. Rather, cost estimates for the
construction of safe and accessible space for eight RVMs at a single
store can range as high as $1,000,000. In addition, some stores have
had to incur an additional cost to apply for and obtain a zoning
variance for the building expansion to accommodate the RVMs.
In contrast, many stores are able to accommodate four RVMs with more
modest work. The Retail Council of New York State and the Food
Industry Alliance of New York both argue that four RVMs at the
largest stores are capable of handling the customer demands.
Moreover, current law requires the stores to accept empty containers
even when the RVMs are not working, and no change is proposed to that
Similarly, experience has shown that some stores with large storage
space not used for the display of merchandise for sale to the public
had triggered the same respective square footage threshold triggered
by other stores with the same overall building footprint but with
much more floor space devoted to the display of merchandise for sale
to the public. As a result, some stores are obligated to install more
RVMs than necessary for their sales volumes. The
bill would address this disparity by clarifying that the square
footage thresholds triggering RVMs are calculated on the area devoted
to the display of merchandise for sale to the public, and not the
entire footprint of the building. Therefore, warehousing and office
space would not be included in the threshold calculations.
In other cases, large stores, such as building supply and department
stores, selling consumer goods other than groceries may sell bottled
water or other beverages as an incidental convenience to customers.
Yet, these stores typically experience very little empty beverage
container returns. Requiring RVMs in this setting imposes an
unnecessary financial burden without any significant benefit to the
public. More- over, container redemption at these stores must
continue to be handled at customer service counters or other areas
within the store. The bill would address this issue by exempting from
the RVM requirement any store that devotes no more than 5% of its
floor space to typical groceries.
Finally, while RVMs are improving the convenience to stores and
customers alike, advancing technologies may soon be available to
increase the efficiency of the redemption process. Accordingly, the
bill would authorize the use of alternative technology upon the
issuance of a waiver from the Commissioner of Environmental
Conservation. Any alternative technology would be required to
determine if a container is redeemable, accumulate information on
containers redeemed, and issue either legal tender or a scrip,
receipt, or other form of credit for the refund value, that can be
exchanged for a period of time not less than 60 days without
requiring the purchase of other goods.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
S.8374 of 2010; Passed Senate
This bill would take effect immediately.
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