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Proposed bottle bill threatens local businesses

Proposed bottle bill threatens local businesses
Proposed bottle bill threatens local businesses(KCRG)
Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 10:10 PM CST
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Lawmakers are taking up changes to the more than 40-year-old bottle law.

The bill currently going through the House would phase out the bottle law. The Senate bill would increase the handling fee that redemption centers get from one cent to two cents while also increasing the radius of businesses who can opt-out of taking cans.

“There’s a lot of people that rely on the nickel redemption,” said Jeff VanDee of Cedar Rapids.

VanDee worries about businesses like Can Shed in Cedar Rapids closing down.

“People depend on it when it’s getting your paycheck or you’re a little short,” he said.

Right now, Iowans pay an extra five cents when they buy some can and bottle products. They can then get that nickel back at a redemption center or grocery store when they return the cans. When the distributor comes to pick up the cans from the redemption center or grocery store, it will pay six cents per can leaving a penny profit for the handler.

Troy Willard is the CEO of the Can Shed. He said he’s been fighting an increase in the handler’s fee for the last 20 years, but said the Senate bill is a little confusing. He said the retailers will now pay the extra penny for the handler’s fee.

“Each side has their own reasons for why the other should pay the extra penny,” said Willard. “For the distributor’s part, they said the retailers need to pay to get out of the process while retailers said the distributors have been able to make extra money from the recycled materials for the last 40 years while only paying a penny.”

Willard said the Senate proposal could cost retailers $15 million. He said both bills need work to keep businesses like his open for people like VanDee.

“This is a lot easier than taking it to the grocery store,” said VanDee.

Both bills are waiting to be voted on in the subcommittee before eventually moving to the full floor for debate.

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