New York Post, January 20th, 2014
A bitter battle over Bud has broken out on Staten Island.
The borough’s only Anheuser-Busch distributor says a local bottle and can redemption center is overwhelming it with returns — of illegally obtained Bud Light cans — according to a Dec. 20 Staten Island Supreme Court lawsuit.
The 10-ounce cans aren’t sold on the island, but R. Ippolito Distributing claims J&B Redemption Center in Stapleton has been collecting 72,000 such cans every week.
Under state law, certain glass, plastic and aluminum cans can be redeemed by consumers, who get a nickel for each one they bring in for recycling.
The containers can be redeemed anywhere they’re sold, or can also be brought to a place such as J&B, which pays out 5 cents each, sorts the cans and bottles and brings them back to wholesalers, who pay J&B 3.5 cents for each.
Such redemption centers are not allowed to fish recyclable containers out of residential trash or otherwise collect them in bulk.
The owner of J&B, Billy Lam, says he’s been checked out by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “They inspected us and they gave us the all-clear,” he said. Ippolito wants a judge to stop the bad returns, and seeks unspecified damages.
He denies gathering 300 bags per week of the offending Bud Lights and says the number is false.
“He sues me for nothing when he knows we’ve been cleared by the DEC,” fumed Lam, who opened the business in August and says Ippolito just doesn’t like the extra work.
But Ippolito says J&B is breaking the law, either illegally taking the containers from residential garbage, or going to Brooklyn and Manhattan to illegally obtain the cans and bring them in for redemption without paying out a nickel per container first, according to the Staten Island Supreme Court suit.
“It’s a problem because Ippolito is a small distributor,” their lawyer, Gary Ettelman, said. “This puts a significant strain on them. If the rate of redemption continues, they would probably put Ippolito out of business in a very short amount of time.”
J&B’s lawyer, Lilia Factor, says the allegations “don’t have any basis in fact.” She acknowledged that occasionally bad bottles slip in, “but that’s not the bulk of it,” she said.
Lam says Ippolito hasn’t been making regular pickups from J&B, which may make it seem like there’s more containers than normal.
Ettelman said the department investigation continues. The agency did not return messages seeking comment.