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Oregon Bottle Bill

Frequently Asked Questions

A) Questions for the Public on returning containers.

  1. What beverages are covered under the Oregon Bottle Bill?
  2. Can a store refuse to take back store brand containers from another grocery chain?
  3. I've heard about redemption centers. What are those?
  4. If a reverse vending machine in front of a store refuses to accept a container, does that mean that the store does not have to accept the container and pay the refund value?
  5. I crushed my aluminum cans, and now the store refuses to take them back. What do I do?
  6. I work with a non-profit, and we accept empty beverage containers as a donation, but my store refuses to accept back more than 144 containers per person per day. Is there anything I can do so my non-profit group can get the deposits donated to them?
  7. Can I bring my Washington or Idaho cans to Oregon and redeem them for the 5-cent refund value?
  8. My store refuses to accept back empty containers covered under the law even though they sell that same kind, size, and brand of beverage container. What should I do?

B) Questions for Distributors, Bottlers, and Beverage Manufacturers

  1. What beverages are covered under the Oregon Bottle Bill?
  2. I know the containers I sell in Oregon must be marked with the Oregon refund value. Is there any specific requirement about how large the type must be or where the refund value must be printed?
  3. Do I have to submit copies of my label to a government agency in Oregon for approval under the bottle bill?
  4. Do I need to register with any Oregon government agency before selling covered beverages in Oregon?
  5. Can a store refuse to accept any containers that are returned for refund?
  6. Who do I send the nickel deposits I collect to?
  7. If I have other questions, who should I ask?

A) Answers for the Public on returning containers.

  1. What beverages are covered under the Oregon Bottle Bill?

Oregon's law currently covers beer, other malt beverages, carbonated mineral waters, carbonated soft drinks, water and flavored water in metal, plastic or glass containers that are 3 liters in size or less. It does not currently cover juice, teas, wine, liquor, dairy or other non-carbonated drinks or beverages. Some carbonated sports drinks and juices are considered "soft drinks” and may be covered. See the definition of "beverage" in Oregon Revised Statutes 459A.700 and in Oregon Administrative Rules 845-020-0005 for the specific definition of what beverages are covered. Amendments to the bottle bill in 2011 add all beverages except wine, liquor, dairy or milk substitutes to the bottle bill as of Jan. 1, 2018 at the latest. Beer, soft drinks and water will continue to be covered in containers that are 3 liters or less in size, but the new beverages will be covered only if they are in bottles or cans from 4 ounces to 1.5 liters in size. Metal cans that require a can opener will also not be included.

  1. Can a store refuse to take back store brand containers from another grocery chain?

Stores of 5,000 square feet of space or larger, which include standard and larger-sized grocery stores, must take back empty containers and pay the refund value if they sell, or have sold within the past six months, that same kind of beverage (water, beer or soft drink) and if the containers are marked with the Oregon 5-cent refund value, even if the containers are different sizes or brands than the store sells. Stores of less than 5,000 square feet may refuse to take back any empty beverage containers of any kind, size and brand that they do not sell.

  1. I've heard about redemption centers. What are those?

Redemption centers are places other than stores where consumers can return their empty containers and be paid the refund value for those containers. Redemption centers and nearby stores can apply to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to have the redemption center accept back containers in lieu of the store taking back containers, and OLCC will approve the application if it finds that the redemption center will be convenient for use by the customers purchasing beverages at those stores. As of 2011, there are two redemption centers operating in Oregon - one in Wood Village and one in Oregon City. These are operated by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative. There are plans to establish more redemption centers throughout Oregon.

  1. If a reverse vending machine at a store refuses to accept a container, does that mean that the store does not have to accept the container and pay the refund value?

No. If the store is required to accept the container (see question #1), then the store must take the container back and pay you the refund value. It does not make any difference whether or not the machine rejects the container. The reverse vending machines are operated by stores for convenience, but they do not relieve the stores of any responsibility under the law. If your container is rejected by the machine but is a kind or brand that the store is required to take back, you can take the empty container into the store and the store must accept it and pay you the refund value.

Often a machine fails to accept containers because it cannot read the bar code on the container, the container has been dented or crushed and cannot fit into the machine, or the machine has not been properly programmed to accept the container. In these cases, the store must redeem the container even though it has been rejected by the machine. However, machines are also programmed to not accept beverage containers not covered under the law, or in some cases, marked as originally being sold in another state or country. In these cases, no deposit has ever been paid on the container, and the store can legally refuse to accept it. If the container is not marked with the Oregon 5-cent refund value, or the retailer can demonstrate that the container was originally sold in another state and thus no deposit was paid on the container, the store can refuse to accept the container.

  1. I crushed my aluminum cans, and now the store refuses to take them back. What do I do?

Stores cannot refuse to accept back cans and pay the refund value simply because the cans are crushed. However, if the can is crushed in such a way that you cannot see the brand of container or the Oregon 5-cent refund marking, then the store can legally refuse to accept back the container. If a store refuses to accept back containers as required under the law, you may want to file a complaint with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which administers the law (see question #8).

Please be aware that the crushing of cans creates significant problems for the stores and for the beverage distributors. It is much harder for them to handle and account for cans which have been crushed, and the crushed cans will not be accepted by the reverse vending machines. Please do not purposefully crush cans, but instead return them whole and uncrushed to the stores.

  1. I work with a non-profit, and we accept empty beverage containers as a donation, but my store refuses to accept back more than 144 containers per person per day. Is there anything I can do so the non-profit group can get the deposits donated to it?

Stores 5,000 square feet or more in size can legally refuse to accept back more than 144 containers per day, and smaller stores can legally refuse to accept back more than 50. However, some stores will work with non-profits to allow greater number of containers to be returned. Stores are not required to do this, and some refuse to do so. The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative will work with qualified non-profit groups to directly accept back large quantities of containers as a fundraising activity, but they are not required to do so under the law.

  1. Can I bring my Washington or Idaho cans to Oregon and redeem them for the 5-cent refund value?

No. The 5-cent refund value applies only to containers sold in Oregon. A 5-cent deposit is paid when a container is purchased in Oregon, and then 5 cents is refunded when the container is returned. No Oregon deposit has been paid on containers purchased in Washington or Idaho.

  1. My store refuses to accept back and pay me the refund value of empty containers covered under the law even though they sell that same kind, size, and brand of beverage container. What should I do?

Beverage containers that visibly contain or are contaminated by a substance other than water, residue of the original contents, or ordinary dust may be refused. Containers that are damaged to the extent that the brand appearing on the container cannot be identified may also be refused. If you return more than the legal limit in one day (see question #6), the store may refuse to take them. As an exception, stores that are served by a redemption center as approved by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission do not have to accept back any containers (see question #3)

If you believe that the containers you are trying to return are covered by the law and a store refuses them, you should contact the OLCC to register a complaint. The OLCC will investigate complaints and require retailers and distributors to follow the requirements of the law. The current contact at the OLCC is Jan Smith, who can be reached by phone at 503-872-5217, toll-free in Oregon at 1-800-452-6522, or by e-mail at jan.smith@state.or.us.

B) Answers for Distributors, Bottlers, and Beverage Manufacturers

  1. What beverages are covered under the Oregon Bottle Bill?

Oregon's law currently covers beer, other malt beverages, carbonated mineral waters, carbonated soft drinks, water and flavored water in metal, plastic or glass containers that are 3 liters in size or less. It does not currently cover juice, teas, wine, liquor, dairy, or other non-carbonated drinks or beverages. Some carbonated sports drinks and juices are considered "soft drinks” and may be covered. See the definition of "beverage" in Oregon Revised Statutes 459A.700 and in Oregon Administrative Rules 845-020-0005 for the specific definition of what beverages are covered. Amendments to the bottle bill in 2011 add all beverages except wine, liquor, dairy or milk substitutes to the bottle bill as of Jan. 1, 2018 at the latest. Beer, soft drinks and water will continue to be covered in containers that are 3 liters or less in size, but the new beverages will be covered only if they are in bottles or cans from 4 ounces to 1.5 liters in size. Metal cans that require a can opener will also not be included.

If you have questions about whether your beverage is covered, contact the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

  1. I know the containers I sell in Oregon must be marked with the Oregon refund value. Is there any specific requirement about how large the type must be or where the refund value must be printed?

The law states that “every beverage container sold or offered for sale in this state by a dealer shall clearly indicate by embossing or by a stamp, or by a label or other method securely affixed to the beverage container, the refund value of the container.” There is no specific requirement as to typeface size or placement of the marking. However, “clearly” means “clearly.” A marking that is too small to read easily, is in non-contrasting colors, or is on the bottom of the container or somewhere else where it will often not be seen, does not comply with the law. There are many good examples of clearly-marked containers on the shelves in Oregon stores that can be used as examples of how to mark containers to satisfy the Oregon law.

  1. Do I have to submit copies of my label to a government agency in Oregon for approval under the bottle bill?

No. There is no requirement to submit your label for approval. Depending on the beverage, there may be other government labeling requirements unrelated to the bottle bill.

  1. Do I need to register with any Oregon government agency before selling covered beverages in Oregon?

There is no requirement under the bottle bill to register. Other general business registration requirements unrelated to the bottle bill may apply, and sellers of alcoholic beverages will need a permit from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

  1. Can a store refuse to accept any containers that are returned for refund?

Stores of 5,000 square feet of space or larger must take back empty containers and pay the refund value if they sell, or have sold within the past six months, that same kind of beverage (water, beer or soft drink) and if the containers are marked with the Oregon 5-cent refund value, even if the containers are different sizes or brands than the store sells. Stores of less than 5,000 square feet may refuse to take back any empty beverage containers of any kind, size and brand that they do not sell.

Beverage containers that visibly contain or are contaminated by a substance other than water, residue of the original contents, or ordinary dust may be refused. Containers that are damaged to the extent that the brand appearing on the container cannot be identified may also be refused.

  1. To whom do I send the nickel deposits I collect to?

In Oregon, the distributor, importer or manufacturer who originates the deposit holds the deposit and gets to keep any unredeemed deposits after refunds have been made to stores in a timely manner. Some retailers of store brands may act as their own distributors. The State of Oregon does not hold deposits or collect unredeemed deposits.

  1. If I have other questions, who should I ask?

If your question is about specific requirements under the law, such as redemption requirements or beverages covered, you should contact the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The current contact there is Kelly Routt, who can be reached by phone at 503-872-5007, or toll-free in Oregon at 1-800-452-6522 x5007.

A complete copy of the Oregon Bottle Bill is available on the Oregon Revised Statutes Web site (see ORS 459A.700-740).

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