Is anybody else having second thoughts about the way we now are supposed to return empty drink containers to get our deposit back?
The idea of centralized redemption centers seemed like a good one when the legislature authorized it a few years ago. Retailers would get rid of the mess of dealing with empties. Customers would no longer have to stand in puddles of spilled pop, feeding their empties into often balky machines.
So now, customers store up their empties until they head to the redemption center with one or more bulging bags. Then they wait for a machine to be free. Maybe one or two of the machines are out of order. The place smells of stale beer, pretty much like those former machines outside the various stores. A lone attendant is frantically trying to do three or four things at once, cleaning the restroom, emptying trash cans full of plastic bags, helping customers at the automated kiosk, and counting empties by hand for someone who doesn’t want to wait for a machine to be free.
Or, we can open an account, buy Bottle Drop bags and labels, and drop off our empties in bulk without having to count them or waiting for anybody.
Convenient? For retailers, certainly. For customers, not so much, especially when you consider the garage space taken up by bags of empties before you remember to take them to be dropped off.
The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative opened the Albany Bottle Drop at 2141 Santiam Highway in August 2015. This was one year after the city council rejected the cooperative’s plan to remodel a vacant thrift shop on Santiam Road, across from Carriage House Plaza.
The location is central all right, but it’s also on one of Albany’s busiest roads, so that getting in and out of the place is a challenge sometimes.
In retrospect, the way we did this years ago seems a lot more convenient: Take a few empties along the next time you went grocery shopping, hand them to somebody in the back of the store, get reimbursed at the check-out stand, and that was that. No storage in the garage, no need to deal with automated kiosks or remember rarely used PIN numbers to get labels, no extra trips or messing with traffic, and no getting your shoes stuck in puddles of dried beer.