Bottle bill passed out of senate could mean sweeping changes to 45-year-old law

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - “This is the first time I’ve seen a bill come out of the chamber since I’ve been in business,” said Troy Willard, CEO of Can Shed in Cedar Rapids.

A bill passed out of the Iowa Senate would mean sweeping changes to Iowa’s 45-year old Bottle Law. Each can have a five-cent deposit. When the bottle is redeemed, the customer gets their five cents back, and the redemption center gets 6 cents for every can and bottle by the distributor. That once-cent profit could jump to three cents and could incentivize redemption centers to open in rural areas.

Aimee Redlinger opened the Old Hospital Bar in Vinton in October of 2021. While business has picked up, she was losing five cents per can because a redemption center wasn’t close enough.

“We throw all of our cans in the trash or recycle them,” she said. “Just the amount of labor and timing that would go into this doesn’t make it worth it.”

The proposed law could bring redemption centers to smaller communities. The bill would allow stores to opt out of taking back bottles and cans while increasing the payment redemption centers receive from the redemption center to 8 cents per can. The two-cent increase was supposed to incentivize more redemption centers to open.

“We’d be taking a look at the extra revenues and pilling them into satellite locations, probably some more technology to give customers more options to return their stuff,” said Troy Willard, CEO of Can Shed in Cedar Rapids.

Willard said the bill did have some perks. He’d make more money per can and could expand, but said it didn’t go far enough.

“To have a drop-off day where the handling fee goes up, and all retailers no longer need to redeem cans and bottles before the new redemption system can grow, won’t work,” he said.

The bill needs to be passed through the house before moving to the Governor’s desk; in the meantime, people like Redlinger would continue to lose five cents per can.

“It’s the little things that are missed in rural communities,” she said. “We need to be self-sufficient to make residents’ lives easier.

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