A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Out of luck at the Albany Bottle Drop

Written September 16th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Saturday afternoon was not a good time to try to return empties at the Albany Bottle Drop.

If you were waiting till Saturday to return your green bags of empty containers at the Albany Bottle Drop, you were out of luck.

I went there at about 3:30 p.m. and found the place locked up. It was also very much cleaned up and empty inside, which I could see by looking in the window.

If there was a story there, I have no idea what it was.

The sign on the bag return hatch claimed the power was out. But that evidently was no longer the case, since the ceiling lights inside were lit.

So maybe when the power failed earlier, the staff cleaned up, washed the floor, locked up, and went home. Or maybe the power had already failed when they showed up for work.

Not being able to claim your refund of bottle deposits may seem like a First World problem that is hardly worth mentioning. But think of the homeless and others for whom picking up and turning in empties is how they survive.

Presumably the place reopened when the staff checked and found the power back on, or it will do so when some internal electrical problem is fixed.

If this little episode shows anything, it’s that a town the size of Albany needs more than one central place where empties are supposed to be returned. (hh)

Postscript: For what it’s worth, the Bottle Drop was open and functioning again on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. 

I looked in the window and saw that the lights at the Bottle Drop were on.


22 responses to “Out of luck at the Albany Bottle Drop”

  1. MarK says:

    Looking at PulsePoint, there was a medical emergency call received for there at 2:42 this afternoon. Maybe that had something to do with this?

  2. john marble says:

    But think of the homeless and others for whom picking up and turning in empties is how they survive.

    Think of the people who live thirty miles away who are trying their best to make this system work, only to arrive and not be able to find redemption. And then, just to add salt to that wound, to return home, safe in the knowledge that they will have to return (at least) one more time to try to complete their mission.


    • Peggy says:

      Actually the bill is written that stores have to take back bottles for just this reason, ie Lebanon doesn’t have one but their stores take bottles

  3. Hartman says:

    This column and the resulting comments purport to show “real concern” over the plight of the Homeless who use bottle returns as a form of income. This is perhaps the MOST compassion ever granted the Homeless by anyone in this town. Shocking! Is it possible that Hasso’s gone Tree-Hugging Native?

  4. Ash says:

    I totally agree that for the size of Albany that there should at least be 2 locations or at least have 2 different companies in Oregon for bottle redemption. I believe not only is there enough locations but almost anyone living in a small town has to travel to access bottle redemption. Moved here from a small town that had a big container we would drop them off that had a access door like drop off door. We would have to wait a week or so to see deposit on account or go to the only grocery store in town that still has machines to return them and wait for awhile to return them. There has been several times that container was full and we would give up and just recycle them. has to be a simpler way to redeem bottles. Like partner with whatever trash/recycling place in the town you live in to redeem them. do away with single deposit and do like some other states ans go by weight

  5. david pulver says:

    it is very difficult for me to have compassion for people who intentionally trash and destroy public property.

  6. Cap B. says:

    I know of a lot where another bottle drop facility could be built. It is construction ready, and it is on First Street in downtown Albany. Used to be a bank there, I think.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Snicker snicker. 《:

      • Cap B. says:

        Thanks for the “snickers,” (with a small “s” since we’re not talking about the candy bar.)
        I needed an affirmation.

        • RICH KELLUM says:

          Take credit for both, the first cap was the beginning of the “sentence.”

          • Cap B. says:

            Thanks. Yes, I know the first cap in what you wrote was because it was the beginning of the sentence. I am many, many years past kindergarten age. Well, actually they never had kindergarten in these parts when I was little; only in the Portland area. And, yes, I am old as the hills.

  7. Katherine says:

    Corvallis bottle drop has less machines and never a line. the homeless there also use it regularly. So, if you have business there on 9th St it is a backup.

  8. Bob Boise says:

    not to mention the criminals who defraud food stamp program by purchasing cases of waters then promptly go to Safeway’s bottle return machines and merrily dump water out, so the 10cent deposit can be redeemed for cash for…(cigs, booze, drugs?). I have seen this several times.

    • Douglas Michael Biegel says:

      No need to buy water bottles and then empty the bottles to get the return money. You can get cash on the Oregon trail card.

  9. Max Holden says:

    salem has a population of close to 180,000 and only has 3 bottle drop sites. The other fact…because of the bottle drop locations, major food stores do not have to accept returns or have their own machines in those areas..(and pay employees to service them)…neat, eh?

  10. Richard Vannice says:

    Corvallis, which a bigger than Albany, only has one center. At least one more in each city would be nice; but, like many other businesses, it would only be a short time until two wouldn’t be enough.
    It’s a no win situation.

  11. Kevin Burger says:

    Smaller towns like sweet home and Lebanon need these too. With the cost of gas and the distance involved one has to do large drops just to justify the cost and that’s without the resident worrier wondering if their open.

  12. Anon says:

    The legislation that created this system was fraught with special interest and self dealing. Big box grocery loved it because they no longer had to accept empties. Environmental idealists loved it because the deposit would go from a nickel to a dime. Beverage distributors loved it because they get to keep the deposits on non returned cans and bottles, an amount statewide that is in the tens of millions of dollars. Everyone got cut in on the deal but the general public who got stuck with higher deposits and more time invested in returning the containers to get their deposits back. First clue should have been that a guy named Bruce Hannah from Roseburg was involved in crafting and passing the bill. Yes, the same guy who owned a soft drink wholesale distribution business at the time. Just one of hundreds of bills that the people of Oregon should not have been subject to. Don’t count on a second bottle drop facility any time soon. That would cost someone benifitting from this system money, for the sake of making easier access for the public.

  13. Bill Kapaun says:

    They could easily ease the demand on these Redemption Centers.

    1. Make the Green Bags FREE. The money saved on wear/tear/cleaning and other maintenance on the machines would likely absorb most of the cost. Maybe all?

    2. Service the Green Bag Drop frequently enough that people can actually use it 24/7.

    I find the “Power Out” scenario a bit “smelly”.

  14. Anonymous User says:

    Green bags are more or less free and there’s no asinine 15 bags per 3 months limit in the Portland metro area but there’s no such arrangements in Corvallis/Albany/Salem area. Have a look at this PDF: https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/Docs/bottle_bill/redemptioncenters.pdf

    As an alternative to going to BottleDrop, these two specific stores in Albany are required to accept 144-per-day of essentially any bottle with “OR 10c” by state law and enforceable by OLCC and as long as the store is open to sell, they have to take the bottles. They can’t set “bottle return hours” that is separate. (If they do, they will be fined or possibly have their liquor license suspended)

    Albany East Liquor Store at 2530 Pacific Blvd SE Liquor Store and
    Grocery Depot at 2206 Santiam Hwy SE


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