29 Iowa Counties Are Bottle Bill ‘Redemption Deserts’

Statewide Iowa — A coalition that supports Iowa’s long-standing “Bottle Bill” says 29 counties are now “redemption deserts” where there is nowhere to take an empty beverage can or bottle and redeem the deposit fee. One of those counties, Osceola County, is in our area.

Iowa lawmakers changed the Bottle Bill in 2022. Retailers that sell pop, beer, and other beverages can opt out of the requirement to accept empties and pay deposits if there’s a redemption center nearby. The Cleaner Iowa coalition surveyed hundreds of Iowa retailers that sell beverages and collect the nickel deposit. It found only 18-and-a-half percent of Iowa grocery stores that responded continue to accept empties and pay back the deposits. R-G Schwarm, a spokesman for Cleaner Iowa, says most of the redemption deserts are in rural areas.

Cleaner Iowa’s survey did connect with 143 retailers that were not allowed by the new law to opt out — and just eight were still accepting empty containers. The 2022 law established a civil fine for retailers that failed to follow the law, but Schwarm says state officials haven’t set up a system to investigate complaints.

The 2022 law increased the per-container handling fee for redemption centers. There have been 43 new redemption centers open, but most are in the state’s largest counties according to Cleaner Iowa.



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