- Associated Press - Sunday, April 30, 2017

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) - Albany’s BottleDrop Oregon Redemption Center has been bustling since April 1, when Oregon’s deposit on cans and bottles doubled to 10 cents.

The local facility received roughly 400,000 to 450,000 containers a week over the past year, but that’s jumped to about 800,000 recently, said Jules Bailey, chief stewardship officer and director of external relations for Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which owns BottleDrop sites across the state.

“We’ve seen huge demand statewide since it went to 10 cents,” Bailey said.

The doubled rate of cans returned for refund at the Albany BottleDrop might not be sustainable, as some residents hoarded cans for months waiting for the 10-cent deposit. But Bailey expects Oregon to see a significant increase over its 64.5 percent return rate for 2015.

Peter Spendelow of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality guessed the return rate might climb back to 80 percent thanks to the 10-cent deposit.

“Other places with higher refund values have higher redemption rates. It seems like the two are related,” said Spendelow, a policy analyst in the department’s materials management section.

“I think this is really important. The one thing I like about the bottle bill is it creates a really great stream of recyclable material. . We want the stuff to actually be used again,” he added.

CORVALLIS LOCATION

BottleDrop has 19 centers in Oregon and six under development, including one in Corvallis that should open up this fall, Bailey said.

“We are in the stages of making sure we get all the retailers signed off on it and the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission),” he added. More details about the Corvallis center will be released later in April or early in May, Bailey said.

The organization also has 12 “BottleDrop Express” locations scheduled to open before the end of 2017. The BottleDrop Express sites essentially are modified shipping containers where rural residents can drop off cans and bottles. Bailey said that the Lebanon and Sweet Home area might get a BottleDrop Express, rather than a full redemption center, sometime in the future.

Jim Crover of Sweet Home hopes to get a BottleDrop location closer to his home. “I know a lot of guys who come this way,” Crover said, as he returned cans at the Albany BottleDrop.

The best spot to return cans in Sweet Home is Safeway, but the few machines there are always busy, or some of them might be out of order because of the high volume, he said.

Crover added that, with the increase to 10 cents, more people were returning cans. “It’s a good thing,” he said.

Tasha Marshall of Shedd agreed that the increased deposit would encourage people to return containers rather than throwing them away or putting them in curbside recycling bins. “You’re paying 10 cents now. You really want to get that back,” she said.

Like Crover, Marshall thinks that the BottleDrop sites are more convenient than using grocery stores’ return machines.

“There are a lot more machines available. You get your money right on the spot. You don’t have to stand in line, and the ones at the stores always break down a lot,” Marshall said.

RECYCLING RATES

An OLCC report from February shows that recycling rates have increased around three of the four locations where BottleDrop sites opened in 2015, including Albany.

In Albany, for example, retailers within the two-mile radius of the BottleDrop saw 17.5 million cans returned in 2014. The Albany BottleDrop opened in August 2015, and the returns in the area that year jumped to 19.1 million cans (both at the redemption center and retailers.)

Christie Scott, OLCC spokeswoman, said that when a redemption center opens in a community, bottle return rates at retailers, including grocery and convenience stores, decline significantly. At the same time, return rates at redemption centers have steadily increased.

However, the data doesn’t take into account residents from Sweet Home, Shedd and other areas who prefer to use the BottleDrop sites to return their containers.

Zach Stratton, Fred Meyer spokesman, called BottleDrop sites clean and organized, and added that they have been a win-win for grocery stores and customers.

He said that bottle return machines at groceries are hard to maintain. “It’s one more thing for our associates to keep up on in an already busy store,” Stratton said.

Spendelow said that the BottleDrop sites have been positive for the state. “Like many other people, I had concerns about it,” he said.

But the BottleDrop sites have proven reliable and efficient, Spendelow said. The green bag accounts, which he termed “valet recycling,” also save residents plenty of time, Spendelow said.

Customers looking to redeem their items at BottleDrop sites can use individual machines, a service counter or open a green bag bottle drop account.

When customers use the machines, they can take receipts to an automated pay station inside the site to get cash, or add the total to their accounts.

The bottle drop account system is another convenient method. Customers get green plastic bags from their BottleDrop site, and the bags have a bar code for account identification. Residents can then drop the bags off at the BottleDrop at any time of the day or night.

Employees will process the bags and add the total to customers’ accounts. Bags cost roughly 40 cents each for purchase and processing.

Once customers want to redeem their accounts, whether they use the machines or green bags, they can also go to participating groceries that have BottleDrop kiosks. They can print out a receipt and get cash back at checkout, or use a voucher worth 20 percent more at that specific store.

FIRST BOTTLE BILL

Oregon passed the nation’s first bottle bill in 1971 to address a growing trash problem along beaches, highways and other public areas. Since that time, the percentage of containers in roadside litter has dropped from 40 percent to 6 percent, according to the OLCC, which was given authority to administer and enforce the Oregon Bottle Bill.

In 2011, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill that set a trigger for the deposit to increase to 10 cents, but not before 2017, if the recycling rate fell below 80 percent for two consecutive years.

The state actually has recorded at least four straight years below that mark, according to OLCC data. In 2012 and 2013 Oregonians returned 71 percent of cans and bottles with deposit, and that dropped to 68.3 percent in 2014. Data on 2016 return rates will be available in August.

Deposits on containers not returned for refund are kept by distributors.

In 2018, all beverages sold in bottles in cans from 4 ounces to 1.5 liters, except wine, liquor, dairy or milk substitutes, will be added to the bottle bill, according to the OLCC.

That will include sports drinks, tea, coffee, hard cider, fruit juice, kombucha and coconut water. Metal cans that require a can opener won’t be subject to the changes.

“We needed these sorts of changes to the bottle bill,” Spendelow said.

___

Information from: Albany Democrat-Herald, https://www.dhonline.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide