Revised Bottle Bill Clears the House

On a 42-16 vote today, the House voted to update Oregon's landmark Bottle Bill.  The new legislation will include water and flavored water bottles in the list of containers requiring a nickel deposit. 

The original Bottle Bill covered only malt beverage and carbonated beverage containers.  And while Oregonians still recycle those containers in significant numbers, overall recycling rates have slipped in recent years.  Adding water and flavored water to the bottle deposit law will keep millions of those containers out of landfills, reducing waste and conserving energy and resources.  Under this bill, containers exceeding three liters are exempt from the bottle deposit.

The Bottle Bill revision also sets up a task force to study the issue more extensively and make recommendations to the legislature on improving the bill’s efficiency and convenience.  Eleven states, including Oregon , currently require a deposit on some beverage containers.

Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley commented on the legislation in a press release this afternoon:

“Conservation is a hallmark of the Oregon experience.  It is central to our value system and critical to preserving our pristine landscape.” Merkley said.  “This bill recognizes those values and restores the original intent of that landmark legislation. Reps. Vicki Berger and Jackie Dingfelder should be proud of all the hard work they put into this bill.  It was a truly bipartisan effort and their dedication has paid off,” Merkley said.

The Senate passed similar legislation in April, but since the House amended the bill, it will go back to the Senate before heading to the Governor.

  • Christopher Cotrell (unverified)

    Why only water? Why not all beverage containers? People stop at the convenience store for juice too, not only pop and water.

  • Eric J. (unverified)

    Thats because the grocers are too freaking lazy to do the extra work necessary to redeem those specific containers. They tell us it is not cost effective to include those items.

  • ws (unverified)

    "Why only water? Why not all beverage containers? People stop at the convenience store for juice too, not only pop and water." Christopher Cottrel

    I totally agree. Every week, I'm buying at least one of those 64 oz containers of cranapple juice or something similar that is almost no longer available in glass. Other products, such as jellies and jams are also less and less available in anything other than plastic. A lot of households probably buy even more of these products than I do, and that adds up to a lot of containers that aren't neccessarily going to be recycled.

    I believe the certainty that plastic containers will actually be recycled and remade into new products is somewhat vague, and definitely less likely than it is for glass, aluminum and tin. Maybe though, a deposit on all plastic containers might somehow help to move them with a little more certainty towards recycling and reuse rather than outright disposal in the landfill.

  • (Show?)

    This is very bad news. Increasing prices for a basic human need is not the way to go. Anyone who knows me knows that my commitment to the environment is a big part of who I am, but that doesn't mean it supersedes all considerations.

    As far as I'm concerned, anyone who wants to advance an argument that usage of small containers of water should be discouraged, had better be ready with their plan of how they plan to actively discourage it for ALL people and not just POOR people.

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    Christopher and WS, there are policy truths and political truths--and it's good to distinguish the two. You are both making a valuable point as far as public policy goes. Sometimes you gots to take what you can get passed. Given that we haven't revised this thing in 35 years, this seems like a good start.

    Pete, I suspect you'll see a pretty sharp increase in the reuse rate on water as a part of this. I'm a little mystified by your opposition. The mechanism has been shown to work pretty well. Maybe not perfectly, but way better than not having any deposit at all.

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    This doesn't increase prices for a basic human need. It creates a deposit for an overpackaged, overhyped version of a basic human need. If people are willing to spend $1 to buy 2 cents of water, making them spend $1.05 instead doesn't seem like we're really creating an economic disincentive.

    We survived just fine for 10,000 years without bottled water. The Benson Bubblers still seem to work. As does carrying a reusable container. As does buying bottles and returning them.

  • je (unverified)

    Why is blueoregon not addressing the issue of illegal immigtation?

  • (Show?)

    JE - We have, many times. If you have something new to say, do it here.

    Back on topic, now.

  • (Show?)

    Poor people can get water out of their tap just like everyone else. For the majority of the people, their tap water is just fine.

    Those who live in areas, buildings, etc. where the water isn't so great -- they don't buy the little bottles of water. They buy it by the gallon.

    Back home we used to have to buy water because of sulfur deposits (we were on well water). We went into town and filled up 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers. It cost a quarter a gallon and was from the municipal water supply (city tap water).

    I see people at Winco doing the same thing all the time.

    It's just way too expensive to buy the small bottles of water. If there's something wrong with your water, you have to buy it not just for drinking water, but cooking, making coffee, tea, and kool-aid, etc.

  • (Show?)

    A modest step forward, though it is my understanding that the amount of the deposit has not been changed. If so, I wish they could have done something to update the amount of deposit to make the margin and the incentive more robust and to reflect the fact that inflation has seriously degraded the effective amount of a 5 cent per bottle/can deposit.

    Why is blueoregon not addressing the issue of illegal immigtation?

    What is "immigtation"...?

  • Marc Rickaby (unverified)

    This revision is great and definitely overdue, but I really would have liked to see some provision made for the returning of bottles and cans to any bottle return center.

    Having to separate cans based on where you bought them is really a pain, not to mention the trip to four different locations around town to return everything. People routinely throw away cans if they only have a few of that brand and it's not worth a trip to another store.

    It seems like they could set up a statewide bottle fund that all deposits were paid into and the retailers could claim from to offset their bottle return payouts. This would negate the argument of only accepting products that they sell.

    It seems a no-brainer that a change of this sort would increase the rate of recycling by making it much easier to do.

  • Jesse B. (unverified)

    This seems weak. A step forward, but let's be honest, wholly inadequate.

    The Bottle Bill was landmark indeed. However, mentioning of this update hardly deserves to be in the same sentance as the word "landmark."

  • (Show?)

    Jeff: Mystified describes my perspective pretty well, too. I think my position has some merit on its face, and is at minimum worthy of consideration. I could go into more detail, but with unanimous opposition in two threads now, it hardly seems like a good use of my time. I guess I'll "agree to be disagreed with" :)

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    Wait, one more thing...for once, I find myself wishing for the perspective of askquestions1st, and s/he's...nowhere to be found...aah, the irony.

  • Dennis (unverified)

    For environmental issues, Oregon is no longer the leader nor maker of "landmark" legislation. It's great to see the old "bottle bill" finally expand into today’s reality of bottled water sales.

    Maybe someday Oregon can catch up to other parts of the world again. Take a look at your neighbor 300 miles to the north. And please don't tell me it doesn't work. I know better.

  • nutmeg (unverified)

    When passed, the Oregon bottle Bill was landmark legislation. People, that was 30 years ago. Today that bill is an anachronism. Perhaps some real 'progressive' thinking is in order here. Do we really need to tax people into recycling? Is the real answer upping the tax in order to continue the unfunded mandate on grocery stores and beverage outlets?

    I recycle because its the right thing to do. Rather than entrenched warfare, why not get the sides together and find a way to fund PSA's and further extend curbside recycling programs? If Kentucky and south carolina can do it, then why can't a progressive Oregon?

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    Do we really need to tax people into recycling? Is the real answer upping the tax in order to continue the unfunded mandate on grocery stores and beverage outlets?

    It's not a tax. It's a deposit. If you choose not to return your cans, that is your decision.

    While the government may not pay for the machines and their upkeep, they're definitely funded. I am tired of this "oh poor grocery stores" stuff. Believe me, the consumer pays for it. The store passes along the cost of those machines and their upkeep to the consumer. That's why consumers should do more to insist their stores keep the area clean and maintained -- we're paying for it, after all.

    Things like soda are items the store makes a lot of money off. They not only make money from selling you the product, but the companies pay a premium for their space. The more they pay, the bigger of an area they get on the shelves. They can also pay premiums for displays.

    Many stores also do this with bread, chips, and other such items that are stocked by the company as opposed to store staff.

  • (Show?)

    Jenni, the cost of a can of Coke jumped from 35¢ to 60 and then 75¢ in Massachusetts, within about a year of the 5¢ bottle bill passing there. As a 5th grader, I considered my allowance in terms of how many cans of Coke I could buy, so I remember it pretty clearly.

    I am no economist, and I have no idea if that will happen with water now that the infrastructure exists for accepting returns…but it's a possibility that I hope has been carefully considered by those better equipped to predict the market forces.

    <h2>Oh, also, I didn't mind so much back then, because returning the cans I found around the neighborhood was not the utterly dehumanizing experience that it is today in Oregon, so I could sustain my "Coke habit" pretty easily that way.</h2>
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