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More Empty Bottles

Stores getting more returns since passage of new law

May 30, 2010
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

Seven months have passed since the state Legislature passed a law expanding bottle recycling regulations, and local businesses that handle the recyclables have varying opinions on how the law has affected them.

The new law provides a 5-cent deposit for bottled water containers. It passed the state Legislature last year after surviving a number of challenges, which stripped a number of bottled drink categories from the original legislation.

Bob Neelis, owner of T.J.'s Discount Beverage on Elmwood Avenue in Gloversville, said since the new law took effect, he's seen a substantial increase in the amount of bottles his store processes.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Carol Neelis, co-owner of TJ’s Discount Beverage in Gloversville, places plastic water bottles into a bin at the store on Thursday. Manager Chuck Murray is working on recyclables in the background.

"It's a lot of work," he said.

Neelis said he gave a part-time employee additional hours in order to take care of the added work to organize the increased volume. He said the size of his store has been limiting and has made handling the increase somewhat difficult.

"It's not as overwhelming as I thought it might be, but we don't have a lot of room here to begin with," he said. "We shuffle things around a lot to make it work."

At Bill's Wholesale Beverages in Amsterdam, owner and President Bill Petrosino said he has "absolutely" seen an increase in the number of bottles and cans brought to his facility since the bill took effect.

"They have had to add an extra truck to my cycle to handle it," he said. "I return to the distributors a whole truck load of empties every week. Especially the water bottles and cans - I take in a tremendous amount."

Petrosino said he offers a deal in which a person can bring a large bag full of cans and receive a flat $12 for it, instead of sorting the cans and bringing them to a supermarket or smaller shop. That offer has contributed to an increase in the volume of returns he sees, he said. He said unlike many stores, he over-redeems recyclables - as in, he takes in more recyclables than he sells in original bottles and cans.

Handling the extra work hasn't been too difficult though, he said. He said he has not added any additional employees or additional hours in order to handle the increase.

"Oddly enough, I think we're just becoming more efficient," he said. "We're staying busier. There is less lull."

For at least one shop in the area, the law hasn't had much of an effect. At Naif's in Gloversville, owner Ed Abraham Jr. said he hasn't seen much of a change.

"Whether they go to the supermarket or another store instead of me, I'm not sure," he said. "But for us, there's been pretty much no difference at all.

With warm weather arriving, though, Petrosino and Neelis both said they expect an increase in the amount of bottles and cans they receive.

"I do about 50 percent of my business in May, June, July and August, so about 50 percent [of the recyclables] come back in that time too," Petrosino said.

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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