A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Deposits and redemption: Chapter 2

Written July 29th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
Cherilyn Bertges at the opening of the Albany Bottle Drop in August 2015.

Cherilyn Bertges at the opening of the Albany Bottle Drop in August 2015.

Hoping to prevent longer waiting times, the operator of Oregon’s “Bottle Drop” redemption centers says it’s preparing for a higher volume of empties expected once the deposit on beverage containers doubles to 10 cents next April. But now I’m wondering if there is solid enough justification for the increase itself.

On July 22, I wrote about the coming increase and speculated that it would result in longer wait times at the Albany Bottle Drop on Santiam Highway. I editorialized that the place should be expanded, or perhaps a second one be opened, to handle the increase in volume.

“While we do expect volume to increase once the deposit goes up, we are also taking measures to handle that volume,” Cherilyn Bertges emailed on Friday. She handles public relations and outreach for the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which operates the Albany Bottle Drop and, according to its web site,15 others around the state. “We continue to open more Bottle Drop centers and plan to have a 25 percent increase in the number of locations by the time the deposit increases. We have also left space in our Bottle Drop centers to add more self-serve machines if necessary. Additionally, we have recently added new features to make fundraising for nonprofits easier at Bottle Drop(s).”

She also told me that whether to add more machines will be decided once it’s known how much of an increase in the flood of empties actually comes about.

The cooperative has plans to set up redemption centers in Corvallis and Lebanon as well, but Bertges didn’t yet have the dates for those projects. Until they happen, Albany’s is the only Bottle Drop between Salem and Eugene. Retailers in places where there are no such redemption centers are required to keep redeeming empties themselves.

Under a 2011 state law, the deposit increase is required when the redemption rate of Bottle Bill containers falls below 80 percent for two years in a row. I had wondered how the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which administers the Bottle Bill and announced the increase, knows the precise redemption percentages (68.45 percent in 2014 and 64.45 percent in 2016). Bertges was kind enough to explain: “The redemption rate in Oregon is calculated by comparing recorded sales data and return data. Since Oregon redeems bottles and cans individually versus by weight, the numbers that the OLCC uses to calculate the redemption rate are very accurate.”

Fine, but unless the disposal companies pick containers from the commingled recycling stream and hand them in for the deposit, the OLCC percentages don’t count all the cans and bottles that end up in recycling bins every week. The redemption rate is one thing. But the actual return rate is something else, and I bet it’s much higher than the percentages calculated by the OLCC. And if I’m right, there’s no justification for the deposit increase, which the 2017 legislature ought to review. (hh)

Waiting at the Albany Bottle Drop one day last week.

Waiting at the Albany Bottle Drop one day last week.



10 responses to “Deposits and redemption: Chapter 2”

  1. Max stalnaker says:

    I have had some occasions to need to pick up bottles by the side of the road. I drive by people doing just that and they are not a juvie work crew. They are effectively self employed and doing more of a community service than many. So raise the rate and expand the items involved. The fish thank you.

  2. Jim Engel says:

    Sure beats standing out in the weather at the prior Fred Meyer or other locations. I would advocate that ALL plastic or metal containers have a deposit.

  3. Mark H. Avery says:

    Hello Hasso & All:

    Here is my new 10 cents worth, Seinfeld: The Deposit Bottle Scam.
    OLCC Link: https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/docs/bottle_bill/Oregon%27s%20Bottle%20Bill%20fact%20sheet%20for%20the%20web%20PostCommission.pdf

    Note need why you should follow the above link.
    ¨Oregon Law states that effective January 1, 2018, all beverage containers except distilled liquor, wine, dairy or plant-based milk, and infant formula will include a deposit. Water, beer, and carbonated soft drinks will continue to require a deposit and most other beverages, including but not limited to tea, coffee, hard cider, fruit juice, kombucha, and coconut water will be added.¨

    What I view on how the state decided what the return rate was.
    I did not see a link for 2014.
    Why or how come there is no data retrieved from western Oregon were by far most of the people live?
    If you want or need to have more information from the horses mouths I suggest contacting the following:
    Bottle Bill Recycling Data 
    Peter Spendelow, DEQ Solid Waste Analyst 
    Phone: 503-229-5253 
    Toll free: 800-452-4011, ext. 5253 
    Becky Voelkel
    Toll free: 800-452-6522

    A plesent day to all on your many returns.


  4. Richard Vannice says:

    It might help if they opened earlier, say 7:30 or 8:00 am

    • hj.anony1 says:

      People like options. More hours of operation including early hours would be helpful.

      What is the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative doing with all the deposit money that is not refunded?

  5. centrist says:

    Hey y’all. You’re complicating a simple thing. Once upon a time, soft drink bottlers charged a deposit on glass bottles hoping to get their glass bottles back. They didn’t care so much about the “plastic” bottles. Trash builds up. Along comes our “bottle bill”, which works well until the advent of other soft drinks. Trash builds up.
    “Bottle Bill” is amended to include new things. Some folks complain about being inconvenienced. SMH
    If the system doesn’t fit your schedule, give the container to someone who can use the dough

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      It was simple when you took your cans to the store and a clerk counted them. I don’t recall long wait times.
      It also saved a trip to another facility.
      Then the stores replaced the clerk with machines. That worked for awhile until the machines started to wear out and break down.
      Stores kept that scenario so that the people got disgusted with the service.
      Wait another year until these machines start breaking down more frequently and we’ll have a worse scenario, since there is only one place to go. I’ve already seen a machine out of service on two visits. I don’t expect things to get better with age.


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