Iowa legislators consider bottle bill repeal

Credit: Zen Sutherland, Flickr.

Has Iowa’s 33-year old “bottle bill” run its course?

That’s what a group of House legislators say. They want to repeal the law that requires vendors to place a 5-cent deposit on all cans and bottles sold in the state that contain alcohol and soft drinks.

Grocers have long argued that the law is overly burdensome and that the transfer of messy containers presents a health risk.

But the bottle bill has been credited with reducing levels of litter in public places – especially in highway ditches. After the bill’s passage, a 1980 litter survey found that beverage container litter in Iowa decreased 77 percent, and overall litter fell by 37 percent.

Also, recycling rates in bottle bill states are drastically higher than they are elsewhere.

In 2006 only 33 percent of containers were recycled nationwide. That number was between 65 and 95 percent in states with deposit laws, according to a study by the Iowa Policy Project. Iowans recycled 91 percent of deposited containers, and Michiganders – the lone residents who pay a 10 cent deposit – recycled 95 percent of containers.

Many have lobbied to expand the scope of the requirement to include non-carbonate and non-alcoholic beverages, which made up 25 percent of the beverage market in 2005. Others have argued that the deposit should be increased to account for inflation. Continue reading