Iowa Senate bill could alter decades old bottle deposit law

SOLON, Iowa (KCRG) -The Iowa Legislature’s first major deadline has passed, effectively killing dozens of bills that didn’t make it past a full committee. One bill that did survive the cut is looking at altering the state’s bottle bill from 1978.

Randy Walter owns convenience stores in Solon and Iowa City. He says Iowa’s 40-year-old bottle-deposit law is costly for his businesses. ”We don’t get the same thing that normal people get when they take their cans back to the can shed. 12 ounce cans, they’ll get $12 for a bag, and then they get a bag. We get $9.60 for that same bag and we have to pay for our bags,” says Walter.

A bill that would make changes to the law recently advanced through a Senate committee.

Senate File 470 would allow dealers to opt-out of accepting nickel-deposit drink containers if the store is within 20 miles of a redemption center.

That’s an option Walter says he’d like to have. “It’s just too much of a cost. And hassle to store them. We can’t call the can shed every time we get a bag. Because we get charged $10 for them to come get it,” says Walter. “We have to let them build up and once again we have to have an outside shed to store them. We have no storage space inside the building.”

CEO of the Can Shed Troy Willard says the most important change redemption centers need to see if the law is changed is an increase in handling fees. The bill would temporarily double handling fees for those centers from one cent to two cents, but the fee would drop down to 1.5 cents in 2023.

“We’d like to see some expansion that would include water bottles, and sports drinks and all those types of containers. And I think again at two cents, that added volume just would help redemption center is in more rural areas handle more volume, which again would drive some revenue and some profit,” says Willard.

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