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Recycling companies say changes to the bottle bill cause lack of incentive for grocers

Iowa's changes to the bottle bill aren't progressive and lag behind those of other states, according to recycling officials.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa House has voted to change Iowa's Bottle Bill, which currently allows you to take back cans and bottles to stores. The Senate passed changes in March, including the ability for a store to opt-out of taking your cans and bottles. 

The house has passed changes that differ slightly from the Senate's. The House voted to allow grocers who do accept those services to receive a handling fee of three cents per container, whereas the Senate believes they should receive a two-cent free.

Iowa's changes to the bottle bill aren't progressive and lag behind those of other states, according to Susan Collins, the President of the Container Recycling Institute.

"Iowa's the only state that has not increased its handling fee since inception, the handling fee is still just one penny. And in most of the other states, it's an average of three cents, and some are even higher at four cents. So, Iowa has really struggled as a result of this," Collins said.

The Iowa House voted to allow grocery stores the option of whether or not they choose to accept or redeem bottles and cans at their stores. Collins believes what the House passed yesterday is taking steps backward.

"There are 1000s of retailers throughout the state, that accept containers from the public and give them their refunds. if all those retailers opted out, and people in the state were left with a few, you know, the 60 far-flung redemption centers, it would mean that people would be paying their deposit and have no way to get it back," Collins said. 

Mick Barry with Des Moines Mid American Recycling has been working on changing the legislation since 1988. In regard to the House's purposed changes, opting out isn't the issue; it's the lack of incentives for these grocers.

"Why would you allow the convenience of redemption redeeming at a store to go away in July, and expect redemption centers to open up but they're still only at one cent handling fee, even though you're trying to pass the three-cent handling fee opportunity," Barry said.

Collins echoes those concerns and believes people need guarantees that they can get their nickels back and use the services with ease.

"The state is telling people, you need to bring in those containers for redemption. And what the state needs to provide for people is convenience. that's the state's responsibility," Collins said.

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