The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a comprehensive multi-agency initiative aimed at curbing returnable container scams that cost the state millions annually. The illicit schemes involve the wrongful redemption of bottles and cans, siphoning funds meant for pivotal environmental projects and other state programs.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos expressed concern over fraudulent activities that exploit the state’s esteemed Bottle Bill. “Criminals are profiting from our efforts to promote recycling,” Seggos stated. The new strategy aims to enhance collaboration between state and local entities, leveraging the expertise from agencies like the State Department of Taxation and Finance, State Liquor Authority, and more. These departments will jointly tackle the challenges by scrutinizing records, overseeing redemption machinery, investigating grievances, and, where necessary, prosecuting offenders.
The Bottle Bill, New York’s flagship recycling program, mandates a minimum deposit of five cents on beverage containers, effectively promoting their return for recycling. Annually, the initiative captures roughly five billion containers, translating to a staggering 250,000 tons of recycled plastic, glass, and aluminum. This effort has significantly decreased container litter, elevating the state’s recycling rate. However, fraudulent activities have been a persistent concern. For instance, a 2018 probe into North Bergen Beverage revealed an estimated $4 million loss for the state due to uninitiated deposits. With the new measures in place, the DEC hopes to fortify the program’s integrity and ensure a fraud-free recycling landscape. Further details on the Bottle Bill can be found on the DEC’s official website.
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