New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have announced what they call the largest-ever penalty issued for alleged violations of New York’s Returnable Container Act, also known as its Bottle Bill.
The settlement, which was ordered by the New York County Supreme Court, requires New Jersey-based North Bergen Beverage to pay the state a total of $550,000 in penalties and costs – including $400,000 in new penalties on top of a previous payment of $100,000, as well as $50,000 for the cost of the state’s investigation. The $500,000 in total penalties being paid by North Bergen Beverage “is more than three-times greater than the previous largest-ever penalty paid by a beverage distributor for alleged violations of New York’s Bottle Bill,” Schneiderman’s office states in a news release.
North Bergen Beverage also is required to suspend its sales in New York of all beverages covered by the Bottle Bill for three years. In addition, if the company violates the court-ordered settlement by selling any regulated beverage during the three-year no-sale period, it would be required to pay the state an additional penalty of $400,000. Penalties paid by North Bergen Beverage will be directed to New York’s Environmental Protection Fund.
Investigations by the Attorney General’s office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Police Officers found that between 2013 and 2016 North Bergen Beverage sold millions of containers of regulated beverages in New York, for which the required deposit was not collected and placed into a dedicated account, as is required for regulated beverages intended for sale in the state. “By flooding the New York market with these beverages, North Bergen Beverage allegedly undermined the law, gained an unfair price advantage over competitors playing by the rules and denied the state revenue,” states the press release.
New York’s Bottle Bill regulates carbonated soft drinks, water, beer, other malt beverages and wine coolers sold in containers of less than one gallon in size.
In 2016, the law helped to recycle 5.1 billion plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers weight a combined 336,000 tons, according to the DEC.
“Unclaimed bottle deposits support important environmental programs that protect the state’s environment, reduce waste disposed in landfills and save energy,” remarks DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Companies operating in New York have a responsibility to comply with the state’s environmental laws, and I commend DEC investigators and our partners in the Attorney General’s Office for taking decisive action in the North Bergen beverage case.”