Survey sets stage for new push to change Bottle Bill

A new survey is once again stirring debate over the Iowa bottle and can law

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) – Just before lawmakers head back to Des Moines for a new legislative session in January, the Iowa Grocery Industry Association and the Iowa Beverage Association say a new survey suggests it’s time for a change in the state bottle bill. Iowa Grocery Industry Association President Michelle Hurd says the survey of 500 Iowa voters indicates the majority want the 40-year-old law updated.

Among the changes, she says most Iowans want to take away the five-cent deposit on carbonated cans and bottles, eliminate the need to return those containers to local stores and create an incentive for landfills and recycling centers to expand recycling to include the bottles and cans that now go to stores. Hurd says times have changed , “ We have different opportunities 40 years later. I think the poll results show there’s strong support for our policy to expand recycling and the accessibility of recycling along with a liter prevention program.”

The survey also shows 67% of those surveyed do not favor increasing the deposit to a dime and including more types of containers. At the Cedar Rapids Can Shed, owner Troy Willard has been offering cash for cans and bottles for 20 years. He says it’s important for everyone to note that the survey was conducted by groups that have long tried to derail the bottle bill. He says countless other polls have shown Iowans like the five-cent refund, that it encourages them to recycle and they prefer it to any type of increase in taxes or fees as an alternative.

Relying on the survey results to design a new bill also concerns Joe Horaney at the Linn County Solid Waste Agency. He says the days of recyclables actually producing money are long gone, “ It sounds great, we’ll just put it into the recycling stream, but everyone has to remember recycling is not free.” Horaney says taking away the five-cent deposit on cans and bottles would flood the center with plastic and aluminum, even with the curbside recycling offered in Linn County, “There are people who choose not to recycle, that’s their choice. Now the only thing those people keep out of their garbage are their deposit containers. They want to get that nickel back that they paid for their pop or beer, so take away that incentive and all that is going in the garbage.”

Hurd says a fund of $60-Million could be transferred from the one-cent handling fees now paid by the beverage industry and used to expand recycling. Horaney says it should be remember that the Iowa bottle and can law started as a way to clean up littered roadsides and parks and rather than ending the deposit incentive, the logical move might be to expand it, “ When they talk about modernizing the bottle bill, absolutely there’s a need for that, but let’s modernize to what the market is now. People are buying water bottles, they’re buying juice bottles and energy drinks. These things should be covered as well, because at the end of the day the bottle bill works and it’s effective.”

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