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Oregon's evolving bottle bill

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Frequently asked questions Bottle bill links Bottle bill rules For more information

The 2011 Oregon Legislature passed with bipartisan support House Bill 3145, signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber in June 2011. The bill sets in motion several significant changes to Oregonís 40-year-old bottle bill, which is administered by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Under the current Oregon law, people pay a 5-cent container deposit when they buy beer, soft drinks, water and flavored water in metal, glass and plastic bottles and cans three liters or less in size. They can return the empty containers to stores and receive the 5-cent refund value for each container returned. The law, originally passed in 1971, has been an iconic symbol of Oregon's love of natural beauty and conservation, and fight against litter and the throwaway mentality. Since passage of Oregon's law and similar legislation in British Columbia, nine other states and most Canadian provinces have since passed similar legislation. Oregon's law originally included only beer and soft drinks. A much-later revision to the law added bottled waters, effective January 2009.

The 2011 bill eventually expands the types of containers eligible for a refund to include juices, teas, coffees and sports drinks and any other beverage intended for human consumption except distilled liquor, wine, dairy and infant formula. OLCC may also exempt other beverages by rule. These added beverages will become refund-eligible on Jan. 1, 2018 or one year after OLCC determines that at least 60 percent of beverage containers are returned to redemption centers (instead of stores), whichever comes first.

Further, the bill provides the possibility of increasing the 5-cent refund value to 10 cents after the OLCC determines that, in each of two previous years, the number of containers returned was less than 80 percent of total number of beer, soft drink and water containers sold. OLCC cannot make this determination, under the law, prior to Jan. 1, 2016, so the earliest the refund value could rise to 10 cents would be Jan.1, 2017.

In addition, the bill encourages development of additional ďredemption centersĒ that will provide a convenient place for people to return their containers besides participating grocery stores. Specifically, the revised bill requires OLCC to approve a pilot project for a single beverage container redemption center operated by a distributor cooperative that is larger in scale than the two existing redemption centers located in Oregon City and Wood Village. If this pilot project is successful, more such redemption centers are expected to be built in Oregonís major population centers.

Bottle bill environmental benefits

Oregonís bottle bill helps ensure materials used to manufacture beverage containers are recycled, thus reducing the energy required to produce the containers and reducing greenhouse gases. In 2009, more than one billion beverage containers were recycled under the bottle bill. Recycling those beverage containers saved three trillion BTUs of energy, equivalent to the amount of energy in 24 million gallons of gasoline. That recycling also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents Ė equal to the amount of carbon dioxide produced by 40,000 cars. These savings should increase as the bottle billís expansion goes into effect. Beverage container litter has also been substantially reduced under the bottle bill, leaving Oregon's roadsides, parks and public lands much cleaner.

Other bottle bill documents

For more information

  • OLCC bottle bill questions:
  • Bottle bill policy, recycling data and bottle bill development: Peter Spendelow, DEQ solid waste analyst, 503-229-5253, toll-free in OR at 1-800-452-4011, x5253;
  • For general information on bottle bills around the country, see the Bottle Bill Resource Guide. The guide, a project of the Container Recycling Institute, provides a comprehensive look at beverage container deposit laws across the U.S. and the world. Container Recycling Institute, Glastonbury, CT, 202-263-0999.

Oregon bottle bill rules:

Other bottle bill links:


 Aluminum cans ready for recycling.
Aluminum cans ready for recycling.

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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

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