A.G. Schneiderman Announces $80,000 Judgment Against Monroe Beverage Distributor For Repeated Violations Of State Bottle Bill

The Juice Factory Corp. Will Pay Total Owed On Five Cent Deposits It Collected But Failed To Pay To New York State Over A Two-Year Period

Schneiderman: We Will Continue To Enforce New York Laws, Including Those Protecting Our Environment

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a court-ordered settlement that requires The Juice Factory Corp., based in Monroe County, to pay the state nearly $80,000 for repeatedly violating multiple provisions of New York’s Returnable Container Act, more commonly known as the Bottle Bill. Investigations by the Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) revealed that, for more than two years, the company collected deposits on beverage containers it sold in Monroe and Erie counties but failed to pay $79,571 in unclaimed deposits to the state, as required by law. 

“The Bottle Bill is one of New York’s hallmark environmental laws, and companies that skirt the law not only hurt recycling and litter prevention efforts but also cheat us all out of money that benefits the public,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to enforce New York’s Bottle Bill and other environmental laws and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules.” 

“Companies have a responsibility to comply with the state’s environmental laws, and I commend DEC investigators and our partners in the Attorney General’s Office and Tax Department for taking decisive action in the Juice Factory case,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. “We must continue to ensure compliance with New York’s Bottle Bill law and put an end to deceptive practices that take advantage of consumers. Unclaimed deposits support important environmental programs that protect our environment, reduce the amount of waste disposed in landfills and save energy.”

The consent judgment, signed today by Monroe County Supreme Court Justice J. Scott Odorisi, comes after the Attorney General office filed a lawsuit against the company in October. The judge’s order requires The Juice Factory Corp. to pay the $79,571 in unclaimed bottle deposits it was required by law to remit to the state. In addition, under the judgment, if the company violates the order, it will be required to pay a $25,000 penalty. 

New York’s Bottle Bill has helped create a cleaner and healthier New York. According to the DEC, roadside container litter has fallen by 70 percent since it passed in 1982. The bill has resulted in the recycling of 90 billion containers, equal to six million tons of materials, at no cost to local governments. It has saved more than 52 million barrels of oil, and eliminates 200,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.

The law requires that there be a deposit of at least a nickel on beverage containers covered by the law, and that the deposit be collected on beverage containers sold in New York. The entity that first sells or offers the beverage for sale, and collects the first nickel deposit, is the “deposit initiator.” The deposit initiator must register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance before selling in New York, maintain a refund account for the deposits collected, and reimburse retailers and redemption centers that return empty containers redeemed by consumers. Deposit initiators must remit 80% of the unclaimed deposits held in the account on a quarterly basis to New York State.

The requirements that deposit initiators register with the state, establish a refund account, and remit 80% of all unclaimed deposits that accrue in that account were added by the New York State Legislature in 2009. This means that the large portion of the unclaimed deposits, previously kept by distributors, be paid over to the state. 

An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s office and DEC found that, between August 2009 and December 2011, The Juice Factory acted as a deposit initiator within the meaning of the Bottle Bill and repeatedly sold and collected deposits on Day’s brand soda it sold in Monroe and Erie counties, according to the suit.  The lawsuit alleged that, throughout this time, the company failed to register as a deposit initiator, failed to create a separate deposit refund account, and failed to remit the required 80% of unclaimed deposits.

According to the lawsuit, state officials notified The Juice Factory on several occasions during the course of its investigation that the company was in violation of provisions of the Bottle Bill and instructed the company to come into compliance, but the Juice Factory ignored these warnings.  Under a 2013 amendment to the Bottle Bill, all enforcement proceeds are to be deposited in the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.

In January 2014, Attorney General Schneiderman obtained a settlement against a New Jersey-based company that underpaid New York nearly $330,000 in bottle deposits.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the DEC and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their assistance. DEC Investigator Christopher T. Didion, Lieutenant Richard Thomas, Senior Attorney Cristin T. Clarke, and Environmental Program Specialist Jennifer Kruman assisted in this matter, as did Department of Taxation and Finance Deputy Counsel Deborah R. Liebman and Taxpayer Assistance Specialist David Foster.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jane Cameron and Andrew Gershon of the Environmental Protection Bureau, which is led by Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. The Social Justice division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney Alvin Bragg.