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'Redemption rates have skyrocketed': Oregon BottleDrop program seeing more participation

That rate is happening thanks, in part, to a change in redemption values from 5 to 10 cents in 2017.

PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 200 people are signing up for Oregon’s BottleDrop Green Bag program every day, according to Oregon Recycle Beverage Cooperative (OBRC).

That rate is happening thanks, in part, to a change in redemption values from 5 to 10 cents in 2017.

“We saw an immediate response to that. Redemption rates have skyrocketed from 65 percent for several years before 2017 and now they’re up to about 85 percent from month to month,” OBRC Community Relations Manager Joel Schoening said.

Aliz Aragon was at the Tigard BottleDop site on Earth Day to bring her bottles in for the first time using the green bay drop off program. However, the environmental holiday had nothing to do with her decision to take part. She tells KGW a friend referred the program to her because of the convince and cash.

“For someone as busy as I am it's great to have the bag. Just keep them in your car, tag them up and drop them off and next thing you know, you'll end up with some cash by the end of the day.

Aragon is one of the roughly 320,000 people who have a BottleDrop account in Oregon.

“I know my family we can be a bit of hoarders when it comes to cans,” Aragon said. “Just drop them off and you're set to go. Get that stuff out of the way and get some actually money as well.”

2018 was one of the best years in the history of Oregon’s beverage container deposit and return program, according to OBRC. Preparations and investments made in 2017 helped the program accommodate nearly 30% growth in the volume of containers recycled that year.

“More containers are coming back; more people are returning, getting their deposits and all of those containers are getting recycled,” Schoening said.

Here is how the program works: In general, a distributor charges a 10-cent deposit when it delivers beverages covered under Oregon’s Bottle Bill to a store, then the store charges a 10-cent deposit when it sells those beverages to a customer. When that customer returns the empty can or bottle to a store or redemption center, the store pays the customer 10 cents per container, and when the store returns the empty containers to a distributor, the distributor pays 10 cents per container to the stores, according to OBRC.

That might sound a bit complicated but getting that cash back is pretty simple:

Step 1: Register for an account at a BottleDrop center and pick up your BottleDrop account card and bags. You can activate your card online to access your balance or earmark money to give to charity.

Step 2: Fill your BottleDrop green bags at home with returnable bottles and cans.

Step 3: Drop off your bags at a BottleDrop center any time between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Step 4:  Get cash from your BottleDrop account at any participating grocery store or BottleDrop redemption center.

“There’s a lot happening in recycling in the world right now and the return rate is a great example of how Oregon continues to be a leader in environmental conservation issues,” Schoening said.

Right now, there are 25 redemption centers and 20 express locations across the state. OBRC is expanding that program and expects to have another 20 express locations this year.

To ensure your green bags of bottles and cans are being properly counted Schoening offered the following tips:

  • Make sure the top of your bag is closed all the way and tied tightly
  • Always scan your card when dropping off a bag. If you do not scan your card, then BottleDrop cannot track the bag.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your account or bag count call 503-542-5252 or email info@bottledropcenters.com.

There is also a bottle refill program. The bottles are made in Oregon, from recycled glass, and are reused up to 25 times. Learn more about that program at https://www.bottledropcenters.com/Refill.

To find a BottleDrop center near you and learn more about the program visit https://www.bottledropcenters.com/.