Better bottle bill bad for beer choice?

pint of beerThe "better bottle bill" that was part of the recent New York State budget includes a provision requiring all redeemable bottles sold in the state to carry a special New York barcode. As you might imagine, this hasn't gone over well with bottlers.

And now there's this from the Brewers Association:

The cost to produce a state-specific label with a unique UPC and the inventory and shipping challenges that presents, will mean many small breweries will be forced to pull their beers out of the New York market because the cost of doing business in the state will be simply too high.

...

Several brewing companies have already weighed in on this issue with the Governor, explaining they would have no choice but to discontinue distribution of their beers.

The complaints about the barcode rule already seem to be getting traction. State legislators have been talking about delaying the rule -- or even dumping it all together.

photo: Flickr user mfajardo

Comments

Please consider writing to your state representatives, staging a protest, or raising some other type of ruckus on this one. Do you really want to have to drive an hour across the border to load up on Magic Hat? Even Yuengling has threated to pull out of New York if this UPC label provision goes through.

Please, don't leave us stuck with Coors Light!

I love my Saranac and Brown's beers, but holy crap would this suck....would Olliver's even stay in business? I imagine foreign beers would pull out as well.... this is scary.

Let's pray the Guv is a beer drinker, though I picture him a wine drinker

There goes half of Oliver's inventory. I thought maybe the big guns (Magic Hat, Yuengling) would just pay it since they sell so much, but I definitely wouldn't be getting any Paulaner any time soon.

Consider also the NY-based breweries that will have to raise prices, such as Matt Brewing Co (the Saranac beers).

Seems another example of lawmakers failing to see the big picture. Short sighted decisions like this that overlook the practical impacts on business in the State make me wonder about other less obvious problems. I can't imagine why a state specific UPC would be required at all, can't the same end be accomplished in software?

Yet another example of New York creating a hostile environment for business and toxic conditions for small business.

How do politicians expect the rust belt to gleam again when they create so many obstacles for potential entrepreneurs?

@Bob F.:

I think the state-specific UPC is desired to prevent those who live across the border from New York from redeeming their out-of-state recyclables here.

From my (very) brief bit of research it appears that Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont have a similar deposit requirement, but New Jersey and Pennsylvania do not. (Although at least New Jersey is considering a refundable deposit.)

So someone living in New Jersey could buy a six-pack and schlep it across the border to a New York return center and collect $0.30 that they didn't pay into the system. It doesn't seem like much, but I suppose in aggregate it really adds up.

It would be smartest for New York to lobby New Jersey and Pennsylvania to harmonize our returnables laws so this would be a non-issue. Of course, then those two states would have the same problems with Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, and the cycle continues...

"So someone living in New Jersey could buy a six-pack and schlep it across the border to a New York return center and collect $0.30 that they didn't pay into the system. It doesn't seem like much, but I suppose in aggregate it really adds up."

Or they could, you know, load it into a mail truck and drive to Michigan.

Hey, just buy kegerators. Better for the environment anyway, and no barcode to deal with.

I've given this some thought and I really don't see how this would be much of a burden to the breweries. The labels or packaging that have the barcodes on them have to be printed anyway, so what difference does it make if they have to print a separate run for New York's enormous thirst? I'm guessing that every production run has an intended customer who has already been sold what's rolling off of the line, it's not like a product with a limited shelf life is made with the hopes that someone *might* buy it sooner or later. The only place I see it being problematic is with exotic imports and small label niche beers, but it's nothing that a little applied cleverness can't overcome.

I have no idea if Tim is correct -- I know next to nothing about bottling aside from the fact that it involves using containers to store drinks for later consumption -- but I love this phrase:

"It's nothing that a little applied cleverness can't overcome."

I always assumed that there was a different code for refund and non-refund states. Apparently this does cost states a lot of money.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27390552/

@Ellsass: MagicHat and Yuengling aren't exactly the "big guys."

Even though Yuengling is #5 and MagicHat is #18 on the list of beer sales in the US http://www.beertown.org/ba/media_2009/Top_50_Release.html, you have to consider this:

Three U.S. beer companies dominate the domestic beer market, selling 81.9% of all the beer consumed in 2003:
Anheuser-Busch -- 51.9%
Miller Brewing Company -- 18.7%
Coors Brewing Company -- 11.3%
- http://www.beersoaksamerica.org/consumption.htm
And Miller and Coors are merged now, so I wouldn't be surprised if their market share has gone up since 2003.

I think the law would hit even the bigger craft brewers like Yuengling and MagicHat pretty hard.

Anything that reduces the amount of beer available to me and my fellow New Yorkers is a bad idea. Period.

I’m all for all these breweries pull out of New York and having to go over state lines to get the brews we want!

Why, I remember a few years ago when this guy and his son paid me and my buddy $80,000 to haul 400 cases of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia, cause they had a similar situation down South back then. The kicker was, we had to do it in under 28 hours!

Did we make it?

Of course, but we blew it all by accepting his offer for double or nothing if we could get him some clam chowder from Boston and have it back in 18 hours.

Shoulda quit when we were ahead, I guess.

This can and does happen on the software end. Machines already will not take cans purchased in other states. I moved back into NY from CT and a few strays i had in my car were not accepted in teh bottle return machines. Another case involved returning cans of Wegmans brand soda I had purchased in Buffalo and tried to return at a Price Chopper. Again, the machine said it could not accept it. In both cases, the UPC's were perfectly intact, and the denial was thus done on the software end. How exactly that works, I don't know. I just know that i've already seen it happen.

First, soda is produced locally usally through franchises. Therefore, different UPCs. Second, the unredeemed cans and bottles run in to the tens of millions of dollars as Massachusetts learned. Check it out. Third, the point is to recycle.

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