A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Returning empties during Days of Corona

Written April 21st, 2020 by Hasso Hering

People returning empties line up at the Albany Bottle Drop Monday afternoon.

Governor Brown’s “stay home, save lives” executive order, in effect since March 23, does not mention Oregon Bottle Bill redemption centers. Lots of people may see the general coronavirus shutdown as a good time to gather up all those empties and turn them in.

That’s the way it looked Monday at the Albany Bottle Drop, where people with sacks of empties were lining up outside, waiting to get in so they could feed their bottles and cans into the self-serve machines one by one.

Others meanwhile were returning containers the easy way, dropping off their “green bags” of empties to have them counted later and credited to their accounts. But that requires establishing an account and getting the bags and labels ahead of time, and there’s a small fee.

The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which operates the Bottle Drop in Albany and many others elsewhere, said it was allowing only 25 people inside its redemption centers at one time in order to allow “social distancing.” Maybe that, along with sanitizing the machines after each use, accounted for the line outside the Albany center.

The cooperative updated its COVID-19 message to customers on Monday. You can read it here.

Even without the extra measures taken to prevent spreading the virus, the Albany Bottle Drop is almost always busy. A community this size needs more than one.

One of these years, the legislature may realize that the advent of near-universal curbside recycling has made the 1971 Bottle Bill, which took effect in 1972, obsolete. All the bottles and cans being returned for their deposit, now 10 cents each, end up as commodities to be reused the same as they would if they were tossed in the recycling bin.

Without the Bottle Bill, recycling the empties would let consumers avoid both the deposit and the wait. (hh)

12 responses to “Returning empties during Days of Corona”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Evidently Gov. Brown has no problem with people congregating at the Church of Recycling, even though coronaviruses can stay on bottles and cans for up to a few days.

    But be the 26th attendee at a Whitespires service and the Gov considers you a danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor.

    Pretty stupid, no?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Not stupid at all. The crowding you see is from how they are controlling the flow inside. Having dropped off bags outside & inside recently, they have the lines & spacing well marked & have eliminated use of every-other machine to maintain distancing. Works well too. What happens outside their 4 walls, they basically have no control over…

  2. Cindy says:

    What about those people who the bottle drop won’t allow to get an account because there IDs are out of state and the homeless people. Also standing in line was A large pain because they are very rude, and the employees are allowing customers to bully others than take the bullies side and kick good people off the property for total BS

  3. Birdieken says:

    While the people return cans, the government class eats ice cream. We don’t need to fear the flu as much as a government that prints inflation and picks winners and losers in the market place. We’ve been misled by one bad model after bad model while the unemployment rate increases by tens of millions. Government should provide support and let the people and businesses decide how to mitigate their own risk. You can stay at home as long as you want but I’d rather keep my job. Get use to the lines because at this rate the next line you’ll be in, is the soup line. Freedom isn’t free!

  4. K says:

    I was there 2 weeks ago and surprised to find ONE of TWO coin machines out of order. And, FIVE bottle counters were out of order. If maintenance on machines was kept up the lines would go a lot faster.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      I saw same with the machines and was told they were closed to keep the reasonable distancing. Makes sense.

  5. D says:

    Bottle bill should be suspended 40 mile trip each way to get to redemption center

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      I find that quite implausible if you live in the state, but why not just stop in when you are going by? How far away from the center do you buy your full containers?

  6. Lundy says:

    I loved the bottle bill for years but definitely would send it to the boneyard, at least on a trial basis, were it in my power. I agree, Hasso — lots of things that made sense 50 years ago no longer do.

  7. Jim Engel says:

    Hey, we donate to Safe Haven via their bag drop. Fill the bag, drop it off & they get the donation. If the “bottle bill” was kicked aside that some think makes no sense ya wanna go back to can trash along roads! You’d need a ton to make any money taking cans out to Burchams Metals. Gracious people, just work with it, not against it.


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