Life support

Redemption is all about sustaining life if Bottle Bill is not updated

DES MOINES — Proposed Iowa Senate changes to the 44-year-old bottle deposit bill that would help keep redemption centers that process empty cans and bottles in business.

If the law is not updated soon, the future of the bottle deposit program is in jeopardy. “The longer this goes on, the more you are going to see the disappearance of most all redemption centers. I know at least six of them that if something doesn’t happen by next year they’re going to close,” said Sheri Cunningham, owner of the Pella Redemption Center.

Cunningham attributes the decrease in redemption centers to the processing fee they receive for each can and bottle processed not increasing since the law passed in 1978. Currently, redemption centers receive 1 cent for each bottle or can. Amendments proposed by the Iowa Senate would increase that amount to 3 cents.

“Forty years ago when the bottle bill was around, there were 150 to 200 redemption centers,” Cunningham said. “Now we are less than 100. It only has to do with the fact that our profits have not increased. So you’re still trying to do the same volume of business with less money.

If too many redemption centers close, the bottle deposit program will not work. This would mean that even if the bill were amended in the future, there would not be the infrastructure to deal with empty cans and bottles.

Cunningham says the deposit program has many benefits. “When you get rid of the bottle bill, the recycling rate goes down,” Cunningham said. Drop-off centers recycle the highest rate of cans and bottles and even resell them to distributors for reuse.

There are also many fundraisers that use the bottle deposit bill to raise funds. Cunningham says she has partnered with many charities to raise money by collecting cans.

Currently, the Iowa House has not released its proposed changes to the Bottle Bill, but when it does, lawmakers can begin work on updating the Bottle Bill.

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