A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bottle Drop follow: Look up and smile

Written January 5th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Outside the drop door at the Albany Bottle Drop on Thursday afternoon.

Following up on last week’s story about the Albany Bottle Drop, and more generally about the Oregon Bottle Bill, there’s something I’d like to amend.

The Dec. 30 story was prompted by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative’s announcement of changes in its terms and conditions taking effect Jan 1.

The main change was in the processing fee charged for counting containers that we deliver to the Bottle Drops in those green bags. It’s an increase for those people who fill the bags with as many little cans and bottles as will fit.

But for our household, whose bags average 20 plastic 2-liter empties, like the one in the photo, it’s a decrease from 40 cents, the prior flat fee, to an average of 16 cents a bag.

Another change is a new requirement to use your own account card to open the drop door so that, the cooperative said, they can associate the bags you leave with your account in case there’s a problem.

I made a crack about that and wondered what kind of problems there could possibly be. How could they link a bag to a customer, I wondered, unless they rigged a camera that snapped photos of whoever opened the door, snapshots that could then be linked to the account card used to open it.

Well, guess what: There is a camera that does exactly that. The story got me an email and a call from Eric Chambers of the cooperative, based in the Portland area. And he explained, using me as an example, how problems can be checked.

On my account, they did not see that I had gotten a credit for returned empties for some time. So they went to the record created by the camera and the opening of the door, and they discovered that I had indeed dropped a bag on a particular day late in December.

“You were wearing a hat,” Chambers told me.

This discovery would have caused the cooperative to try to determine why the system did not show a corresponding credit for that bag. As it turned out, no investigation was required because just then the credit did show up.

I had not seen the camera before. On Thursday I looked for it, and it’s right there, above the drop door.

You can look at this setup as an example of the sophisticated technical capability of the cooperative’s container-refund system. Or you can fret about yet another step toward the all-seeing surveillance society of “1984.”

Either way, working in that back room with tons of empties can’t be a lot of fun. So when you stuff a bag through that door, look up and give them a friendly smile. (hh)

There’s that little camera, up on the wall.



4 responses to “Bottle Drop follow: Look up and smile”

  1. Anon says:

    Nice of them to call you. It does not change the basics. Beverage distributors and big box grocery facilities win! The rest of us are out time and or money. All of the brought to us by environmental activists, a beverage distributer, and big box grocery lobbyists. Someone in Salem really should do the math and correct the situation.

    • Hartman says:

      If we are to accept Anon’s critique of the bottle drop program, it seems possible that the average Oregonian consumer of these products is simply dim witted. Only simpletons fall prey to “beverage distributors, environmental activists and big box grocery lobbyists.” These conspirators understand the weak-minded, cretins who object to the concept of soda bottle returns but continue to purchase these pointless products in such massive volume that large bags are necessary to accommodate returns. These same clodpolls pile multiple, bulging sacks of soda containers into gas-guzzling motor vehicles to haul the bags to the drop-off point…and then the soda-swilling dolts agree to pay yet another fee after already having paid 10 cents per bottle on an initial deposit.

      The question that must be asked is: Why do allegedly intelligent consumers continue with this same moronic action when all one need to to solve the problem is to stop purchasing and stop consuming these soda products. It doesn’t seem difficult.

      • Al Nyman says:

        What do you drink? Tap water! You should change your handle from Hartman to Mr. Perfect which fits your comments and the rest of us can refer to you as a dolt.

  2. Nick says:

    I saw some news about the increase in price for bags returned. That has made me choose to go back to putting them in the machines myself. In my household, we use cans and get about 100 of them in a bag. That is based on the deposit into our account of around 10.00 per bag. Yes, we fill them as full as we can, or else it is not worth it or requires using more bags, and as we know plastic bags are not the best for the environment. I remember when it was only 25 cents per bag. I have always noticed people drop off full bags and mostly bags of cans as we do For us and most likely most customers this will result in almost doubling the fee from 40 to around 80 cents. We personally return the larger 2 liters and Gatorade bottles by hand because it does not make financial sense to drop them off with the cost of bags plus existing counting fees. I feel like this was done more as they could almost double the income than for the stated reasons of un fair to people who mostly do 2 liters and also the statements about people putting to much weight in. There is a 20 lb limit and I would say if it is over it so bad you loose don’t count it.

    Makes sense to me they would need to as I can’t figure out how they are finically stable, to begin with. However, if you return the green bags through a retail partner it costs you nothing in processing fees. Unforantly none are in Albany.


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