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Post date: January 21 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Announces $160k Payment By Beverage Company For Violating NYS Bottle Bill

New Jersey’s FID Distributors Repeatedly Violated NY Law By Pocketing Unclaimed Bottle Deposits Owed The State

Schneiderman: My Office Will Enforce The Bottle Bill, Which Is Key To Fighting Litter And Promoting Recycling, And Generates Millions Annually For Environmental Protection

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that New Jersey-based FID Distributors, LLC, will pay nearly $160,000 for repeatedly violating New York’s Returnable Container Act, otherwise known as the Bottle Bill. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Conservation revealed that for almost two years, FID collected deposits on beverage containers it sold but failed, as required by the law, to send to the State 80% of those deposits that were never claimed. 

“The Bottle Bill is one of New York’s hallmark environmental laws. Companies that skirt the Bottle Bill not only hurt recycling and anti-littering efforts, they also deprive the State of critical funding for environmental protection programs,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “FID Distributors broke the law by pocketing unclaimed deposits that it owed to the state. My office will continue to safeguard New Yorkers and their communities by aggressively enforcing our State’s environmental protection laws.” 

New York’s Bottle bill requires that a 5-cent deposit be collected either before or when a beverage container covered by the law is first sold or offered for sale in the State. The entity that first collects the deposit -- the deposit initiator -- must register with the New York State Department of Taxation, and hold the deposits in a refund account from which to reimburse retailers and redemption centers that return empty containers. Deposit initiators must remit to the State 80% of the unclaimed deposits held in the account on a quarterly basis.

The investigation conducted by Attorney General Schneiderman and DEC found that from October 2010 to May 2012, FID acted as a deposit initiator within the meaning of the Bottle Bill and repeatedly sold and collected deposits on covered beverage containers in New York State. Throughout this time, FID failed to register as a deposit initiator with the State, failed to create a separate deposit refund account and failed to remit the required 80% of unclaimed deposits to the State. Records indicate that the company collected $411,782 in unclaimed deposits over the period. However, FID failed to remit to the State any of the required 80% of those unclaimed deposits, an amount totaling $329,426. 

The matter was resolved through an Assurance of Discontinuance signed by FID and the Attorney General’s office today. This settlement document requires the company to pay New York $159,227 – a figure that reflects, among other factors, the company’s poor financial health and inability to pay the full amount of unclaimed deposits owed to the state. The company is no longer distributing containers subject to the law in New York State. 

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Lisa Feiner and Andrew Gershon of the Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel. DEC Region 2 Regional Capt. Cisco Lopez, and Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation Lt. John Fitzpatrick and Investigator Sara Komonchak, also assisted in the matter.