Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Oregon was one of, or maybe the first state to enact a bottle deposit system, and we've been paying the nickel per certain types of glass and plastic bottles and aluminum cans ever since. We get back a nickel per bottle or can when we take them back to the retail store. Now the Oregon legislature is working on an update to the bill that will include many more bottle types than beer and soft drinks. The bill will also establish a system of bottle redemption centers so that the retail stores will no longer have to deal with bottle returns. And the deposit might increase to ten cents per bottle.

I don't get it.

I just returned from a walk to my local Fred Meyers store, where in addition to shopping, I returned some deposit bottles. This recently remodeled store has a separate small building, across the parking lot from the store, that has four bottle and can return machines. One of the three can and bottle machines was out of order, and the fourth machine is only for aluminum cans. A woman and her two kids were feeding bottles and cans into one machine; they had a half-dozen very large plastic trash bags full. A man was feeding bottles and cans into another machine; he had a shopping cart mounded high with bottles and cans. Another woman was standing and waiting; she had a shopping cart full plus a trash bag of cans and bottles. The can only machine was unused - I had bottles. The two working machines are the type that accept one bottle or can at a time, so I knew I had to be patient. Did I mention that I had three six-pack carriers of glass bottles and two liter-size plastic seltzer bottles? I waited, fed my few bottles into the machine, and got a receipt worth one dollar. Oh joy!

So the future is that I'll need to get in my car and drive to a redemption center, so I'll probably save bottles until I have a truck load (where the hell I'll keep them I have no idea), and then I'll spend a bunch-o-time standing around a smelly, sticky-floored crap hole to have my turn at a machine. Hmmm....get in car, use gas, spew emissions, stand around waiting for the professionals to be finished.....great plan.

We have curbside recycling in Portland. The blue rolling cart is for paper, cardboard, certain plastics, and metals. The green rolling cart is for yard debris. The yellow bin is for glass. The pickup is once a week. So why can't they also give me a bin for deposit bottles and cans, scan in some code that records the credit to my account, and dump it into a machine like the ones at the redemption center that counts them and breaks the glass bottles and shreds the plastic bottles and aluminum cans?

Is this too logical, or what? Someone please help me out here.


  1. Wow, great idea! I like it. Makes tons of sense....so it'll probably never happen.

  2. I'm beginning to believe that recycling is far more political than logical or "resource responsible". In Jackson County much of the recycled glass isn't even recycled - it's dumped because the cost of true recycling the glass itself is too great. So we spend enormous amounts of time and hot water washing only to ... pitch them.