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Oregon Bottle Bill expansion passes final legislative hurdle

Measure goes to governor's desk
by: Courtesy of Oregon DEQ The U.S. beverage industry pushed throwaway containers in the 1960s, leading to litter problems. Oregon just launched its second major expansion to the iconic bottle bill.

The Oregon Senate ratified a major expansion of the Oregon Bottle Bill on Wednesday, sending the measure to Governor John Kitzhaber's desk for his signature.

House Bill 3145 expands the types of containers and beverages subject to a nickel deposit - now mostly limited to soft drinks, beer and water containers - to include juice and energy drinks, tea and coffee. The expansion must occur by 2018 for containers between four ounces and 1.5 liters. Practically every beverage container in that size range will require a deposit, except wine, liquor, milk and infant formula containers.

Oregonians currently return 1.1 billion containers per year to reclaim the nickel deposits. The expansion adds roughly 200 million potential containers to the deposit system, which is credited with sparking the modern recycling movement in Oregon and much of the country.

In addition, the nickel deposit will be increased to a dime if the container redemption rate falls below 80 percent for two consecutive years, no sooner than 2017.

The current redemption rate is 75 percent, and with the increase in containers, that rate is likely to fall, at least initially.

Another provision in the bill allows a one-time pilot project for a large bottle redemption center to serve grocery stores within a three-mile radius. Stores more than 1.5 miles away must continue to accept up to 24 deposit containers on site.