Posted by: winteridge | June 7, 2009

Buddy, Can You Spare a Nickel?

As New York State’s economy worsens day by day, I find myself spending more and more time out along the highways and byways of this once-great state- searching for nickel cans.  Always see a lot of friends and neighbors out there too, mostly seniors and jobless folks.  Hey, you do what you have to do, in spite of what Joe Bruno says.  But it seems that we are kicking more and more water and juice bottles out of the way these days, just to get to the beer and soda bottles, where the big money is.

For those folks who may not be familiar, New York enacted a law, many years ago, placing a $.05 deposit on beer and soda cans or bottles, payable upon return.  Of course, many citizens cannot be bothered with a mere nickel, so the beer can goes out the car window for the industrious collector.  And of course, any monies for unreturned bottles goes into the state tax barrel.  Also, for mysterious reasons, our infamous NY Legislature excluded from this law many other containers, such as juice and tea, and now water bottles, so these discards pretty much remain out there-forever.  No deposit-no return.

To be fair, our mostly dysfunctional legislators have attempted, over the years, to correct this oversight in taxing bottles, especially after bottled water became popular, but Gov BrunoSilver always managed to block any changes.  Not enough nickels involved, perhaps.  But finally, this year, rumor has it that the nickel can bill has been expanded to include water bottles (but not juice cans), to take effect some time in the unknown future.

One huge flaw in this environmental bill that our legislature has not addressed, however, is that although this is a NEW YORK law, and the can labels all state “NY Deposit 5 cents”, many stores and vendors will not accept bottles sold from another store, or brought in from another county.  For instance, one cannot return to Price Chopper a pepsi can purchased at Wegman’s, or a Wal-Mart brand can.  One cannot return to a redemption center in Onondaga County with a mountain dew bottle purchased in Lewis County.  Some will refuse a can if it is smashed, dented, or has holes.  So sorry, no soup for you!  Makes no sense at all.  It might be different if they rinsed the cans and reused them, but they all go in the big grinder.  As I tried to explain at a deposit center, the label clearly says NY deposit-nothing about counties or store brands or territorial infighting.  A nickel should be a nickel.  At least that can goes home to be deposited in my trash, not his.  Let NY have that nickel.  At least, in this instance, the legislature’s intent was good, however unclear.  I think.

Oh, look, a whole 6-pack!



  1. Oh, yes, I am a little late with this, but thanks to all you D-Day Veterans everywhere. There is no way we could ever repay you.

  2. Some people have asked me about the various other bottles and cans they see along the roadways. Those are mostly just tea, sugar-water drinks and such, and not really trash like, say, a beer bottle. (Does that make any sense?) For some reason our legislature did not include them in the new deposit/return law, so they must have thought so. Of course there are all the MickyD bags and coffee containers-nothing to do about them. Ever wonder about who raised those people who throw everything out the car window? I wonder. Maybe mommie taught them to keep the car interior clean? Yeah, right!

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