Task force debates changes needed in state bottle recycling

Task force debates changes needed in state bottle recycling

Credit: KGW photo

Oregon's Bottle Bill would be expanded to include plastic water bottles under a plan endorsed by the Oregon Grocer's Association.

Print
Email
|

by By Associated Press

kgw.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 6 at 1:22 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- A state task force says Oregon should double its nickel deposit on beer and soft drink containers in three years, expand the kinds of containers requiring deposits and set up redemption centers funded by grocers and bottlers to let some grocery stores stop accepting recyclables.

But there is a split on the nine-member task force, with the three representatives of grocers and bottlers calling many of the changes "premature at best," foreshadowing a possible raucous debate in the 2009 Legislature.

Oregon passed the nation's first bill requiring deposits on some containers in 1971 and 10 other states have similar laws.

Michigan is the only one with a dime deposit and has the nation's highest redemption rate for soda and beer containers at 90 percent.

The task force, appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, presented its recommendations to legislators Friday.

They include raising the refundable deposit to 10 cents by Jan. 1, 2011. By 2013, it said the bill should include containers for sports drinks, coffees, teas, juices, wine and liquor, but not dairy beverages.

The redemption center system would include up to 90 centers, with grocery stores exempted from taking recyclables if they fall within a still-undefined "convenience zone" around the centers.

Part of the industry funding would come from unredeemed deposits that bottlers and distributors keep.

The bill now applies to soda and beer cans and bottles, boosting recycling of those items to about 80 percent. The 2007 Legislature added water bottles to the list as of next Jan. 1 and established the task force to look at other changes.

Exempting some grocers from paying deposits in exchange for setting up redemption centers is likely to prompt the most debate, task force Chairman John Kopetski predicted.

"The public wants that return to retail not to stop," he said, "and the grocers don't want to pay for both systems."

The dime deposit and adding more containers will probably stir up controversy, as well. State Sen. Mark Haas, D-Beaverton, a task-force member, said he opposes adding wine and liquor bottles, which aren't a big part of the litter problem the bottle bill was designed to address.

The minority report argued that the changes should be postponed until it's clear the system can handle adding water bottles.

The industry trio included a representative from Safeway; Steve Emery, a task-force member and president and CEO of EartH2.0 a spring water bottler; and Eric Forrest, co-president of Pepsi Cola Bottling of Eugene. Emery and Forrest said the focus should be on boosting the state's curbside recycling system, not on charging more and complicating the successful bottle bill.

"The bottle bill has worked for 37 years because of its simplicity," Forrest said. "The harder it gets to manage, the more likely it is to fail."

Print
Email
|