A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A challenge to the bottle cooperative

Written May 14th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

The “drop door” at the Albany Bottle Drop at 8:04 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.

The photo above reinforces my contention that one Bottle Drop in Albany is not enough for the demand being put on it by people trying to live up to Oregon’s bottle-and-can-deposit law.

The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which runs the redemption centers in Albany and elsewhere, invites beverage buyers to collect their empties in those green bags it sells, and then to drop them off at the customers’ convenience.

But the last few times I’ve done that, and again on Saturday night, the space behind the drop door was packed. I managed to push one more bag in there and close the door again, but it took some doing.

Returning empties should not have to turn into a test of strength. The cooperative owes it to customers to keep the space behind the door more or less empty, or at least empty enough so bags can be slid down the chute.

If the bags bulge out of the opening, the door is hard to close. If it doesn’t close, anyone can come by and grab a few bags, then go back when the place is open and feed the empties into the machines for whatever refund they might yield. Not that anyone would do that, of course. But then again, with the degree of vagrancy going on, who knows?

Get ready for the usual suggestions. “I take all my empties to the humane society.” “Why not keep your empties in your garage for the next bottle drive by whoever still has bottle drives?” “Quit buying beverages in containers.” And so forth.

Fine. Returning the empties in those bags is not the only option for living a happy life. I get that.

But if the deposit-and-return system is based at least partly on the bag program, maybe the people running it should eliminate the hassles and make sure the program works. Either hire enough staff for a smooth operation at the Albany center, or open more of these centers in this and any other town this size. (hh)

21 responses to “A challenge to the bottle cooperative”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Good luck lobbying for better service from an industry that has a perverse incentive created by state government to keep things a little miserable for you.

    Follow the money.

    The law allows the distribution industry to make money every time a person discards a container and gives up the dime deposit. Those dimes pay for the non-profit OBRC and the rest goes into the pockets of the profit-making distributors who control the OBRC.

    So there is a little incentive to keep you a little happy, but not too happy.

    Too much happiness eats into the bottom line.

    So ask the following questions:

    (1) How many dimes trickle down to the bottom line of this state-sponsored monopoly?

    (2) Is that info publicly available, or is it a closely guarded secret?

  2. Abe Cee says:


  3. Corvallis Carl says:

    I keep seeing this on your blog and by the perennial complainers on the Albany Facebook groups. I don’t see anywhere near the “problem” at the Corvallis bottle drop.

  4. Jennifer Munro says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s been like this every time I go for the past 1.5 years, except for one time a couple of weeks ago. I must have just timed it right.

  5. James Engel says:

    We get labeled bags from Safe Haven Humane Society on ‘ole Hwy 34. Just taken them to the redemption center & drop them off. Great idea. Simple folks. YES, another south location would be helpful…

  6. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Unless they’ve changed their rules, don’t overthink it. Simply take the bag inside to the counter. No sweat….

  7. Aimée says:

    I do agree! As for taking them inside (when they’re open), it’s not always possible/convenient. We live 20 miles out of town, so try and make our trips productive and do our shopping as well. Don’t have time to wait for waiting there. Another biggie for us: the floor is always so sticky your shoes stick to it! I’m not bringing that into my vehicle. You’d think they’d keep it regularly mopped.

  8. Bill Kapaun says:

    Hasso- Do you feel you were lied to?


    • Hasso Hering says:

      No. That was seven years ago when the redemption center opened. It was later that conditions deteriorated and the hours of the “drop door” were shortened. The representative I spoke to in 2015 could not foresee what the company would do years later, or how this enterprise would change.

  9. Bob Woods says:

    So, raise your hand if you’ve sent a request to your state representative and senator to improve the service.

    If you only post your dissatisfaction here or on Facebook or other social media, you’re not doing your part.

  10. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe if EVERYBODY sent an email and complained to: customerservice@obrc.com

  11. Dave says:

    These centers need to open up in every town as possible to relieve congestion as seen at the Albany center. As far as Gordon’s comment about money’s from bottles and cans that are discarded. I can tell from past bottle drives, that’s a personal choice that the consumers make. If you don’t redeem your dimes, then where should that money go? I do agree that the funds need to be transparent as to which business profits from this law.


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