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Bottle Opener

Judge lifts injunction on New York's expanded bottle bill.

The office of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo declared victory after a court decision rolled back an injunction that had blocked the state's newly expanded bottle bill.

The “Bigger, Better Bottle Bill,” enacted by the state legislature on April 7, 2009, updated New York's 1982 Bottle Bill in several ways, most notably expanding it to include bottled water and requiring beverage companies to return 80 percent of unclaimed bottle deposits — an estimated $115 million annually, according to Cuomo's office — to the state. It also attempts to make the program more user-friendly by improving the infrastructure for collecting and recycling bottles and cans.

The International Bottled Water Association and two bottlers, Nestle Waters North America and Polar Corp., filed suit to waylay the bill on May 22, 2009, alleging that certain of its provisions were unconstitutional. In June, another judge had issued a broad order enjoining all the provisions of the expanded Bottle Bill until at least April 2010.

But Judge Deborah Batts, a Federal District Court Judge in Manhattan, ruled that some of the most important provisions of the expanded Bottle Bill can go into effect immediately, including the return of 80 percent of the unclaimed nickels to the state, and increased handling fees for bottle redemption centers. The judge also ruled that the bottled water industry must comply with the bill by Oct. 22, 2009 unless they can demonstrate that compliance is impossible.

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