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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Oregon bottle deposits law is anachronism of the 20th century

Six-liquid-ounce glass Coke bottles say return for deposit on their 6-pack cardboard tote holder

PHOTO: Six-liquid-ounce glass Coke bottles say "return for deposit" on their 6-pack cardboard tote holder. Each thick glass Coke bottle weighs nearly a pound empty so that it is durable enough to be washable and refillable many times. Today's glass bottles are much thinner and lighter, partially due to better glass making technology and also because non-returnable bottles are used only once and do not need to be as durable to last until they are put in with other recyclable glass.

The article "Oregon Bottle Bill" From Wikipedia says, "The Oregon Bottle Bill is a container-deposit legislation passed in the U.S. state of Oregon in 1971 and amended in 2007. It requires cans, bottles, and other containers of carbonated soft drink, beer, and (since 2009) water sold in Oregon to be returnable with a minimum refund value."

The following newspaper story about plans to expand the Oregon Bottle Bill, and the local newspaper editorial are what prompted my letter to the editor seen after the list below:

Below is my letter to the editor in response:

Oregon's 5 cents' bottle deposit originally provided a huge incentive to return it, but it would need to be 29 cents, adjusted for inflation, to provide the same incentive today. (From 1972-2017 the CPI-U went from 42 to 241)

It was much easier to return bottles in 1972 when every Corvallis supermarket cashier would credit the deposit after a bag boy counted your returned bottles, before he bagged your groceries and took them out to your car.

Today, can deposit return machines are dirty, hard to use, and you must often wait for somebody returning a bag full of cans.

Oregon's bottle bill was originally passed to reduce litter in reaction to the business decision by bottlers to use disposable containers because it reduced costs, throughout the entire supply chain, due to lighter weight glass and aluminum cans.

For example, Coke was packaged in 6 liquid-ounce returnable glass bottles, weighing almost a pound empty, compared to today's 12 liquid-ounce aluminum cans weighing less than an ounce empty, and bottlers of Coke would take back the Coke bottle, refund the deposit, wash and refill it many times.

Increasing the deposit only from 5 to 10 cents will mostly lower the income of the homeless I see collecting cans from the curbside recycling containers in my neighborhood, because my neighbors will probably redeem more cans themselves.

Oregon's bottle deposits are an anachronism of the 20th century and should be eliminated in the 21st century, instead of increased.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Eliminate deposits on bottle returns," Gazette-Times, Mar. 16, 2017, p. A6 posted Mar. 7, 2017)