A patch of sea garbag at sea in the Pacific Ocean in...

A patch of sea garbag at sea in the Pacific Ocean in 2009. Credit: AP/Scripps Institution of Oceano/Mario Aguilera

Albany lawmakers are debating a solution to the solid-waste crisis. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will hold corporations — not taxpayers — responsible for the cost of recycling their product packaging and paper. The op-ed "Culture shift needed to increase recycling" [Opinion, March 17] mischaracterized EPR as a tax.

EPR is a tax break for consumers. EPR saves taxpayers and municipalities millions of dollars by shifting costs from taxpayers to corporations. Local governments (outside of New York City) pay $80 million each year to keep recycling programs alive. EPR has been in effect for decades in Canada and Europe and hasn’t impacted the cost of consumer goods.

Wasteful paper and plastic packaging results in plastic pollution filling our oceans and landfills, and skyrocketing costs for local governments. EPR reduces plastic and paper packaging waste, increases recycling, and saves local governments millions.

The Brookhaven landfill closes in 2027. We must reduce our waste now or we will be paying a lot more money to truck ash off Long Island. We are delighted Gov. Kathy Hochul put EPR in her budget. This opened the door to meaningful discussions to protect our environment and relieve local governments of growing financial burdens for waste management. We are counting on lawmakers to get it done.

— Adrienne Esposito, Farmingdale

The writer is executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

It is crucial that the Bottle Bill, now 40 years old, be increased from a nickel to a dime to account for inflation, as well as expanded to cover more types of beverage containers. While New York’s Bottle Bill has historically done a lot to increase recycling rates and decrease litter, its impact is now largely stagnant. The return rate for redeemable bottles in New York has remained between 62% and 65% for the past decade. Contrastingly, the Bottle Bill Resource Guide shows that Oregon, where the bottle deposit is 10 cents, has a redemption rate as high as 85%. In Michigan, where the bottle deposit is also 10 cents, the redemption rate is as high as 94%.

If New York wants to move toward a more sustainable future, reduce litter, and increase recycling rates, we must institute a bigger, better Bottle Bill. A bottle deposit law with a 10-cent deposit that includes wine, cider and non-carbonated beverages is what New York needs after 40 years.

— Maraki Russell, Baldwin

The writer is LI project coordinator at the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The number of our seabirds has declined 70% since 1970; 90% have ingested plastic, making them smaller and sicker. They are the canaries in the coal mine. We ourselves ingest a credit card’s weight of plastic each week. New York State urgently needs a strong Extended Producer Responsibility bill to reduce plastic packaging and address this crisis.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s EPR proposal lacks requirements for reduction, recyclability, recycled content, and banning priority toxic chemicals. Businesses can and should reduce their packaging by 50% in the next decade. The governor’s bill allows the companies who created the packaging mess to regulate themselves — the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse.

The state does not have time to watch a failed EPR system play out. Every year, up to 15 million more tons of plastic enter our oceans. A recent global survey found that 75% of people want single-use plastics banned. Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) has a good proposal for EPR that should be passed.

— Brien Weiner, Valley Stream

The writer is president of the South Shore Audubon Society.

The article "Recycling overhaul plan" [News, March 10] omits an important detail: All packaging materials are not recycled at the same rates. In fact, more paper is recycled every year than plastic, glass, and aluminum combined. Legislators should consider the recycling successes of individual industries instead of pursuing a one-size-fits-all solution.

The American Forest & Paper Association is actively engaged with leaders in Albany to ensure we don’t do anything to disrupt New York’s paper recycling achievements. The paper industry is the recycling standard-bearer. Thanks to billions of dollars in private investments, the paper industry recycles about 50 million tons of recovered paper annually — more than 1 billion tons over the past two decades.

Overall, paper recycling rates are approaching what would be practically achievable. The cardboard recycling rate in 2020 was nearly 89%. And in New York, nearly 89% of residents have access to curbside recycling.

Environmental policies that curb pollution and strengthen recycling infrastructure are crucial. Rather than a blanket approach that ignores decades of proven success, New York lawmakers should look to paper recycling as a model to emulate.

— Terry Webber, Washington, D.C.

The writer is vice president of industry affairs for the American Forest & Paper Association.

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