Bottle Bill Will Decrease Bottle Redemption Centers


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Josie Taylor | June 28, 2022

There may be a significant reduction in the number of places that redeem cans and bottles in Iowa after changes to the state’s bottle bill go into effect in July. 

The Sierra Club of Iowa estimates that about 1,700 businesses that sell the beverages are required to take back those containers right now, but changes to the law that were signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds last week and will go into effect July 1 will exempt most of those businesses that prepare ready-to-eat food. That includes a large number of grocery stores and those within a certain distance of a redemption center.

According to an Iowa Department of Natural Resources list, there are 121 active redemption centers in the state, but the Sierra Club and the owner of the state’s largest redemption business estimate the true number is closer to 60 because many of the centers listed by the DNR have closed.

Can and bottle redemptions were halted for months at the beginning of the pandemic, and when they resumed there were huge backlogs of containers and long lines of people attempting to redeem them.

Many believe that the reduced number of places to redeem cans and bottles will likely propel new technologies to make the redemptions more convenient for residents. That might include drop sites where people leave bags of containers that are tagged in some way to connect them to the people, and the redemption centers later count the containers and compensate the customers.

Iowa Senate Votes to Allow Retailers to Stop Accepting Bottle and Can Returns


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Josie Taylor | March 31, 2022

Under a bill that was approved Tuesday by the Iowa Senate retailers would be allowed to opt out of accepting bottle and can returns starting in 2023. Redemption centers would get a raise, and beverage wholesalers would continue to keep unredeemed deposits. 

Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, floor manager of Senate File 2378, said it was “an attempt to save the bottle bill.” Democrats who opposed the legislation said it would do the opposite.

The bill increases the handling fee for redemption centers from 1 cent to 3 cents per container. Retailers that continue to accept containers will continue to receive a penny per container.

One of the main points of disagreement between the two sides is whether the increased handling fee will be enough to encourage new or expanded redemption centers to open. If retailers opt out of the program, more redemption centers will be needed so consumers can return their containers and collect their 5-cent deposit.

The bill passed with a vote of 31-18. Now it will move to the House, which is considering a separate bill that allows some retailers – grocers and some others – to opt out of accepting container returns.

Proposed Changes to Iowa’s Bottle Bill Could Make it Harder for Rural Iowans to Recycle


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Nicole Welle | May 28, 2020

Iowa’s grocery industry recently proposed changes to a 40-year-old bill that requires grocery and convenience stores to take back cans and bottles for recycling.

One of these proposals would allow stores to stop accepting cans and bottles if there is a redemption center within a 15-mile radius of their store. Currently, the law states that they do not have to accept these recyclables if there is a redemption center within a 10-minute drive of their store, according to an article published in The Gazette.

Grocers urged the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to make this change just a day after Gov. Kim Reynolds extended the suspension of the bottle bill requirement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This change could lead to an increase in litter and the number of cans and bottles going into landfills since recycling would become more difficult for rural Iowans. It could also put a strain on smaller redemption centers that are not prepared to take in larger quantities of recyclables.

Some Iowan’s also raised concerns over a part of the proposal that would waive a requirement that retailers establish a written agreement with a redemption center before they are allowed to stop accepting cans and bottles. If that requirement is waived, retailers could simply tell the DNR that there is a redemption center within the 15-mile radius without the need for documentation. A lack of paper trail would make it difficult to require stores to begin accepting recyclables again if a redemption center were to go out of business, according to Troy Willard, owner of the Can Shed that services markets in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

The DNR has not yet set a deadline for making a decision on the proposed changes.