The covid catastrophe has made many things in Albany more complicated, and that includes the operation of the state’s system of bottle deposits and returns.
The Bottle Drop in Albany is a busy place, and we’re supposed to avoid crowded indoor spaces as much as we can. So you want to collect your returns in those green plastic bags that you can shove into a little door from outside.
But last week, I couldn’t buy more than 10 bags at time. Apparently there’s a supply shortage connected with the pandemic. That means more frequent visits to the service counter inside, not ideal.
Because of covid, during busy times people who want to feed their empties into the redemption machines sometimes have to wait in line outside, six feet apart. This may have been a mere nuisance in the spring, but it’s a pain during hot summer days, or when the rain this coming winter gets whipped sideways by the wind.
As a convenience, you can cash in your accumulated deposits at participating stores. But in recent days, at two separate Albany supermarkets the in-store redemption centers were out of order. Covid did not cause this directly, but my guess is that the pandemic has everybody doing extra work, leaving less time for routine maintenance or repairs.
Albany, a trading center for maybe 70,000 or 80,000 people, still has only one Bottle Drop. The times I’ve been there, the few employees are being run ragged taking care of the crowd and keeping the place clean. The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which runs these places around the state, ought to think of opening a second one.
We’ve had the Bottle Bill for nearly 50 years. It’s done a good job keeping our roadsides mostly clear of disposable bottles and cans. It has worked not because of the nickel deposit, now 10 cents, but because Oregonians by and large have willingly gone to the extra trouble to make it work.
During the pandemic, that little extra effort is not always quite so little any more. (hh)