29 Iowa Counties Face Inconvenience Due to Bottle Bill Changes

Since 1978, Iowa’s bottle bill has permitted almost 50 billion cans to be collected. However, legislative changes have made the procedure inconvenient for numerous Iowa communities.

“The key to any deposit system is convenience,” said R.G. Schwarm, executive director of Cleaner Iowa. “And if we make it more difficult for consumers to redeem their containers, they’re less likely to do so.”

Changes to Iowa’s bottle law in 2022 produced both positive and negative results.

“We were pleased in 2022 when there were changes made to the bottle bill, most notably to its handling fee increase from one cent to three cents,” Schwarm said in a statement. “But it also made some other changes that we think had a negative impact on the system.”

29 Iowa Counties Face Inconvenience Due to Bottle Bill Changes

With broad criteria, some businesses could choose not to be redemption sites.

“If you don’t have retailers that choose to participate, or the non-exempt retailers refuse to do so, that’s just going to cause more frustration for those that are trying to redeem, and it will most likely result in less containers being redeemed,” Schwarm said in a statement.

Buena Vista County, along with 29 other counties in Iowa, lacks a DNR-approved redemption site.

“We have a recycling center, but not one where people can turn in their cans for cash,” Storm Lake communications director Dana Larsen explained. “A place like Walmart, they have machines where you can put your cans through and get your money back that way, but it’s a bit of a slow process doing that.”

Storm Lake, like the rest of the state, does not have every retailer willing to redeem citizens’ bottles.

29 Iowa Counties Face Inconvenience Due to Bottle Bill Changes

“The grocery stores sometimes are reluctant because they’re handling foods, so it’s difficult for them to handle sticky things that people are bringing back and keep their food still safe and sterile,” Larsen told the newspaper. “We understand sometimes that they don’t want to do that, but we do appreciate people taking their things to places that do accept them.”

After identifying the stores that are legally compelled to redeem containers, Cleaner Iowa hopes to see an increase in redemption numbers.

“We’re not looking for every retailer to be slapped with a fine,” Schwarm went on to say. “Hopefully, when we can bring more attention to it, retailers that are legally obligated to redeem, when they’re made aware that they need to do so, hopefully, they will.”

Click here to find DNR-approved redemption locations.

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