Oregon bottle bill to become reality

The Oregon bottle bill has received a lot of attention throughout the legislative process and has been amended several times before approval from both the Oregon House and Senate, and now it requires only the signature of Gov. John Kitzhaber to be signed into law.

“The one thing I’ve learned about Oregonians, which we all are, we keep our beaches clean, and we take care of our rest stops,” State Sen. Peter Courtney said. “Oregonians also like to be outdoors more than indoors, even when it rains.”

The outdoor-loving Oregonian described by Courtney was echoed by other members of the state legislation.

Oregon Rep. Ben Cannon said, “All Oregonians have a little bit of the bottle bill in their DNA.”

Oregon was the first state to have a bottle bill, but amendments and changes have since been made to other state bottle bills to include some of the things discussed during this year’s revisions to the bill.

However, there are still states that do not have bottle bills and redemption centers for beverages.

The most significant changes the bottle bill will make are expanding the amount of beverages with a deposit, increasing the refund amount to 10 cents and creating a recycle center system to return cans and bottles.

“My main interest in it is the expansion of the redemption center idea,” Rep. Vicki Berger said. “Few people understand that the original bottle bill was basically a way of encouraging a redemption center system, not a grocery store redemption system.”

The new redemption center would be separate from the grocery stores, where cans and bottles are currently returned.

Northwest Grocery Association President Joe Gilliam welcomed the change, saying, “We got the expansion of water bottles a few years back; it increased the volume and we just don’t have the capacity at the grocery stores to do it.”

Although pilot projects of the redemption centers have proven effective, Rep. Mike McLane is skeptical about the usage of redemption centers in rural areas.

The success of the redemption center determines when the beverages included in the bottle bill will include fruit drinks, juices, energy drinks and sports drinks.

“The expansion cannot come until the redemption center system begins to work throughout the state,” Berger said. “The other visions in this bill will follow.”

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission will determine that at least 60 percent of the beverage containers are returned before allowing the additional beverages to fall under the new bottle bill. If this does not happen before January 2018, the beverages will be added at this time.

“If we do this expansion to juices, teas, sports drinks, energy drinks and other beverages that we haven’t yet imagined between now and 2018. If we do it, and if those containers are recycled at the 75 to 80 percent rate that we’re recycling deposit containers today,” Cannon said, “we will see 8,000 containers an hour saved from landfills.”

Eight months after the OLCC determines the number of containers returned was fewer than 80 percent of the total number of beverage containers sold in this state, the refund amount will go up to 10 cents the following calendar year.

However, this change will not be made before January 2016, as outlined in the bottle bill, and the increase will not include the beverages not yet included in the bottle bill. Those beverages will not see an increase until at least January 2021.

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