Fate Of Bottle Bill Debated, Again, At Statehouse

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — After years of study and decades of debate, the fate of Iowa’s bottle deposit law is still being discussed by lawmakers.

There are two vastly different bills in the Iowa House this year. One bill would KEEP the nickel deposit on bottles and cans, but send two cents of that to redemption centers rather than just a penny. The other bill would get rid of the “bottle bill” altogether in 2023. Mary Ann Renner has owned and operated redemption centers in Maquoketa and Tipton for 22 years.

Lee Colins, the operator of the Can Dough redemption center in Ottumwa for the past eight years, says some people in her area depend on the money they get from returning the empties.

Bottle bill advocates say because of the bottle bill, about three-quarters of the empty cans and bottles that had pop, beer or wine get returned for the deposit. Grocery and convenience stores argue the cans and bottles are often filthy and shouldn’t be handled in a place that sells food. Brad Epperly, a lobbyist for the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, says the current system is not convenient for consumers, either.

Representative Megan Jones, a Republican from Sioux Rapids, says the Bottle Bill helped teach generations of Iowans how to recycle, but she says the empties taken to grocery stores are now a public health issue.

It’s unclear what, if anything, legislators may decide to do on this topic — and this Friday is the deadline for committee passage of policy bills, or the legislation is dead for the year.

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