Saturday, October 24, 2009

Après Batts Le Déluge

As the NY Times is reporting, Judge Deborah Batts has issued a court order mandating-without any hearing from the involved parties, that the deposit on water bottles will commence October, 31st-giving retailers scant time to comply; and leaving water distributors scrambling to devise redemption systems: " federal judge issued an order on Friday lifting an injunction on an expansion of the state’s bottle bill, meaning that nickel deposits will be imposed on bottled water starting Oct. 31. All containers of water under a gallon will have a 5-cent refundable deposit, as beer and soda containers have had for years."

Get ready for the water tax folks: "The Food Industry Alliance of New York State, a trade group representing groceries, has said the expansion will increase the cost of a 24-pack of water by $2." And it will-but first the upcoming chaos.

As we argued the other day-at a time when we had no idea that Judge Batts would, well, go batty: "What is clear, is that the water distributors better gear up-and fast-if they want to avoid a disruption in their distribution system. As we have advised some of the impacted companies: "The expansion of the New York State Returnable Container Act to water creates some unique challenges for the new players in the redemption system.. The reason lies with the fact that the water companies-from the largest on down-are nor geared up to do this redemption work, and will need considerable help in order to simply avoid the kind of chaos that could easily spill over into their distribution network, and hurt sales."

So now, with no system really in place, water bottlers and distributors need to figure out how best to comply with the new law-and do so on the run. But just remember, when you pay $1.50 for the bottle of water that used to cost only a buck, it's courtesy of the governor and the environmental advocates. But at least you all can sleep well, knowing that all of the unredeemed deposits are going to be earmarked for a good cause. As the Times reminds us: "Governor Paterson issued a statement on Friday saying that 80 percent of unclaimed deposits would go to the state as much-needed revenue."

Whew! We feel so much better now.