Senate Subcommittee Approves Bottle Bill Expansion

By James Lynch, Reporter

DES MOINES, Iowa – There's no question it's been popular and successful, but there's no consensus on modernizing Iowa's 35-year-old bottle bill.

Backers of Senate Study Bill 1247, a proposal to expand the nickel-per-bottle recycling program to include water bottle and other beverage containers, made their case in front of an Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee panel April 4, arguing it must be modernized to reflect changes in beverage choices and consumers habits.

However, opponents, many of them grocers, called expansion costly and the least effective approach to recycling the growing waste stream of beverage containers.

"It's a 1970s solution that doesn't address the current environment," Michelle Hurd of the Iowa Grocers Association said that the subcommittee meeting that attracted more than 50 people.

Grocers recommended expansion of curbside recycling programs rather than continuing to have consumers bring dirty bottle into food stores.

SSB 1247 would not change the current nickel deposit on beverage cans and bottles and consumers would continue to get their full deposit returned to them when they redeem the containers. However, the handling fee distributors pay redemption centers would increase from 1 cent to 2 cents on plastic containers. That would benefit redemption centers, proponents said.

Perhaps reflecting the range of attitudes toward the bottle bill, subcommittee Chairwoman Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, recalled her mother had worked on the getting the bottle bill passed, but she puts her cans and bottles in the recycling bin rather than take them with her when she heads to the grocery store with her three children.

Democratic subcommittee members signed the bill so it advances to the full Appropriations Committee.
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