Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs)
In 2008, legislation passed in New York State that required stores selling beverages in disposable containers (water, soda, etc.) to install expensive reverse vending machines (RVMs) which allow automated returns. Not only are the machines expensive, but retailers could have additional costs build up while trying to create adequate space to house the RVMs.
This year, the New York State Legislature passed legislation that will help to ease the burden on small businesses affected by the RVM requirement. The bill, passed by the State Legislature and awaiting the Governor's signature, amends Environmental Conservation Law 27-1007. The new law adjusts the number of RVMs that are required based on a businesses square footage. Instead of installing three RVMs, businesses with 40,000 - 60,000 square feet would only need two. Likewise, businesses with 60,000 - 85,000 square feet would need to install three machines instead of four. The most significant adjustment was for stores with more than 85,000 square feet. The number of required RVMs changed from eight to four, a significant decrease and cost savings.
Additional changes to the previous law include a clarification of what areas are used in the calculation of square footage. No longer will the entire footprint of a building be subject to the calculation, only the area devoted to merchandise for sale will be used to determine square footage. Also, the bill exempts any business from the requirement who only uses up to 5% of its floor space for the display and sale of food, paper products, cleaning supplies or health and beauty items. Additionally, any business who receives a waiver from the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation for use of alternative technology would be exempt from the law.
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce is against the implementation of any and all fees by New York State that would directly impact small and mid-sized businesses. We applaud the New York State Legislature for recognizing the disadvantage small business owners were put at under the previous requirements for RVMs. By acting swiftly to rectify the error, legislators showed that they are ready to once again open New York State for business.