A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

“BottleDrop:” Why it matters

Written June 30th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
There's remodeling going on inside the future redemption center on Santiam Highway S.E.

There’s remodeling going on inside the future redemption center on Santiam Highway S.E.

Albany’s bottle and can redemption center has an Aug. 20 target date to open for business, and “so far we are on track,”  Cherilyn Bertges of the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative says. Why should anyone care? Because sooner or later, the Oregon Bottle Bill will demand recycling of more types of beverage containers, and the availability of redemption centers is a factor in when that decision gets made.

On June 19 the Recycling Cooperative won approval from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to open the first Albany redemption center or “BottleDrop” at 2141 Santiam Highway S.E., across Santiam from Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer. Major beverage retailers in the city plan to quit accepting empties when the center opens.

Redemption centers were one of the elements of a law enacted in 2011 to expand the scope of the Oregon deposit law. When it was first enacted in 1971, the law required deposits on soft drink and beer containers. Water bottles were added in 2009. Now, consumers pay a 5-cent deposit on beer, soft drinks, water and flavored water in metal, plastic and glass containers of 3 liters or less. But eventually, the state Bottle Bill website reminds us all, the 2011 change :will  expand types of containers requiring deposits to include juices, teas, coffees and sports drinks and any other beverage intended for human consumption except distilled liquor, wine, dairy and infant formula.

The added containers will require a deposit on Jan. 1, 2018, “or one year after OLCC determines that at least 60 percent of beverage containers are returned to redemption centers (instead of stores), whichever comes first.” Also, the 2011 act says the deposit doubles to 10 cents per container “after the OLCC determines that, in each of two previous years, the number of containers returned was less than 80 percent of total number of beer, soft drink and water containers sold.”

The state Bottle Bill site explains: “OLCC cannot make this determination, under the law, prior to Jan. 1, 2016, so the earliest the refund value could rise to 10 cents would be Jan.1, 2017.”

It’s because of the law’s intent of requiring deposits for more types of containers that legislators allowed redemption centers. The goal was to relieve retailers of handling and storing tons of additional bottles and cans. Several cities in Oregon already have them. Now Albany is getting one. Bertges says the cooperative eventually hopes to have one in Corvallis too, but there are no current plans. The next ones are planned for Grants Pass and northeast Salem. (hh)

6 responses to ““BottleDrop:” Why it matters”

  1. Roger says:

    Different people had different goals to create this new system. One of the projected results is that as a percentage fewer bottles and cans will be returned as it limits the number venues where they can be returned. Not having to accept returns was attractive to large grocery operations, otherwise they would not have supported the legislation. The folks who could really make out on this are businesses in the soft drink and beer distribution business as they get to charge the extra 5 or 10 cents up front and the decreased redemption rate percentage is money in their pocket. People who are on EBT cards and would do anything for a quart of beer are winners. They just buy a case of water, dump it on the ground and then redeem the empties for cash. Beer money! The consumer loses as they have a specific designated spot that their bottles and cans have to be dropped off, which will take a bit more time. Small stores lose as they can’t afford the price of the redemption center contract and will be the consumers’ only choice other than the redemption center for returns. They likely will see an increase in the returns they have to handle, increasing their labor costs, without sales increases to offset those costs. Oh, and the environmentalists who thought this was a win for them, they likely lose as well as there will be more bottles and cans discarded instead of recycled. There were way too many special interests in this legislation and not enough common sense.

  2. Debbie Swenson says:

    I have questions. Many times we go to the store have to wait in line to get to a machine to return our deposits. Every time we go at least one of the machines isn’t working properly. Then we have to wait for some one to fix it, and sometimes they can’t for days. This redemption center site does not have adequate parking to take the place of every major store in town that collects for recycle. Where is everyone going to park? How many people will be working at one time? What kind of machines are they using? Does the public run them as is now the case or someone else? Do the machines count the bottles and cans? Will we be standing in even longer lines? The devil is in the details. If it takes too long or there are too many issues people will just toss it all in the trash. I have serious doubts about this.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Excellent questions all. When this was brought before the city last year, in connection with another site, the cooperative said among other things that the place would be staffed during business hours, that customers could ask to have their returns counted, and that there would be provisions to return empties in bulk to be counted and credited to you without you having to wait. We’ll have to see how it actually works, but I’m not aware of problem reports from other cities where the centers have been in operation. (hh)

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      The stores have no incentive to promptly repair their machines. They want to get out of having to deal with the recyclables THEY sell.
      I haven’t purchased a recyclable product since they announced the redemption center.
      It’s too much of a pain to have to make a special trip when one doesn’t own a car.

  3. David Abarr says:

    I used the one in South Salem many times . The operation is very clean and efficient . Taking the burden off the retailers is a huge win . The bottle drop only does this one thing . I don’t think parking will be a issue since it’s so efficient . I highly recommend using the night drop as well . Once open Albany will LOVE this .

  4. Bob Woods says:

    The one in south Salem works great. Clean, fast and an attendant available.


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