Bottle bill reform heads for Iowa governor
Iowa lawmakers have approved container drop-off legislation that triples bottle handling fees, but allows grocery stores and other retail entities to opt out of the collection system, which could significantly reduce the access to redemption.
Senate File 2378 was sent to Governor Kim Reynolds on May 23. She has 30 days to sign it. The passage of the legislation comes after years of unsuccessful efforts to update the scheme.
The current deposit law allows consumers to return all containers of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages to grocery stores and other retailers, as well as redemption centers, to recover a 5-cent deposit. Redemption centers and retailers currently receive a 1 cent handling fee for any container they take.
In recent years, there has been a pronounced push for new and updated cylinder bills at the state and federal level, sometimes with increased support from the private sector as container manufacturers seek to increase billing rates. recycling and recovering their materials for use towards recycled content. targets. The Iowa bill has advanced much further than most other bills introduced this legislative session.
Increase in management fees
Previously, the Iowa Recycling Association (IRA) suggested three fixes for the state deposit system: raise the processing fee for all redemption points to 3 cents; update enforcement efforts against those who break the law by refusing to buy back eligible containers; and require retailers to continue refund programs.
Elizabeth MacKenzie, chair of the IRA, told Resource Recycling that SF 2378 has aspects the association has wanted for years, such as increased processing fees paid to redemption centers and container retailers. However, parts of it also worry MacKenzie, particularly the redefined convenience metrics and opt-out options for retailers.
The House bill would have raised the fee to 2 cents and the Senate bill would have raised it to 3 cents. The final bill raised it to 3 cents.
“We’ve been pushing for an increase in processing fees for a number of years,” MacKenzie said. “It has not been increased since the Bottle Bill was passed. Going from 1 cent to 3 cents was a big deal and very important to us.
Troy Willard, IRA board member and owner of the Can Shed, a redemption center with locations in Cedar Rapids, Marion, Iowa City, Hiawatha and Manchester, said in an interview with Resource Recycling “it’s was my opinion that 2 cents was never going to be enough.” Iowa’s bottle bill went into effect in 1979, and Willard noted that it’s now been 40 years without a pay raise for redemption centers.
He added that he would like to see a system to increase fees in the future based on the consumer price index. Willard noted that the increase to 3 cents might encourage some people to open new redemption centers. He said that in his company, the first impact of this increase would be better salaries for staff and investments in new technologies.
MacKenzie said she hopes the increased fee will encourage more retailers to continue accepting the bottles despite the bill’s new opt-out option.
“We have been pushing for an increase in processing fees for a number of years. It has not been increased since the original passage of the Bottle Bill. Going from 1 cent to 3 cents was a big deal and very important to us. – Elizabeth MacKenzie, president of the Iowa Recycling Association
Retailers can opt out
Both bills allowed retailers to opt out of bottles and cans. Critics said the change would reduce access for many people. The grocery industry lobbied for the opt-out, which was eventually included in the final bill.
According to the text of the bill, retailers can stop taking containers if they are authorized to prepare ready-to-eat foods or if they are located within the convenience standard of a redemption center or a center. mobile reimbursement. They can also opt out if they don’t fall under these requirements, but enter into an agreement with a mobile redemption system or redemption center to get the bottles to the center.
Retailers could opt out through an agreement with a mobile redemption system or redemption center as soon as the invoice is signed, or they can wait until the January 1, 2023 effective date to use one of the other ways of withdrawal.
Any withdrawing entity will be required to “post a conspicuous notice on the front door of the Merchant’s place of business stating that the Merchant does not accept empty beverage containers” and the location of the Authorized Redemption Center on closer.
Currently, about 2,000 establishments across the state are taking back cans and bottles, including retailers, MacKenzie said. If every eligible retailer opted out, there would be 60 left, a “pretty dramatic drop” that would hurt reimbursement levels.
Willard said his redemption centers are mostly in eastern Iowa, where they enjoy a denser population, but in the western and southern parts, the “population just isn’t there to be able to support redemption centers”.