Bottle and Can Return Available July 26. But It Shouldn’t Be.
Starting July 26th you will be able to return all your empty bottles and cans back to the store and get those nickels back in your pocket. That is the dumbest sentence I've ever typed in my life.
If you didn't know, in Iowa every time you buy a soda or alcoholic drink in a bottle or can, you pay an additional 5 cents per bottle/can. Then when you return them, you get your money back. This has been shut down since March as a global pandemic was not the best time for people to be handling other people's used drinking containers.
I had hope. I thought maybe the process would change. It has not. And now for the next couple months you know the lines will be long, the stores will be over worked and confrontations will take place as people look to get their nickels back.
According to the Iowa DNR, 71% of containers are redeemed annually. So a lot of people are getting their money back. However what about that 29%. Are they in the garbage? The streets? Some frat boys wall of empties? Or, are they just being recycled because people don't want to deal with a garage full of sticky, smelly empty bottles and cans.
There are currently 10 states with "bottle bills" that collect a deposit. Out of those 10 Iowa ranks 6th in recycling rate at 71%.
What about states without bottle bills? Well, there are no stats on those since they aren't keeping track of the nickels. However, one comparison I can make is with my former home of Houston, Texas. There was no bottle bill in Texas yet cans and bottles weren't piling up in the streets. I see more empty White Claw cans on the streets of the Quad Cities than I did in the 4th largest city in the country.
According to the Des Moines Register there have been attempts to change the law.
Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, introduced a bill that would have phased out the bottle deposit over three years. It died in a subcommittee under opposition from recycling and environmental groups.
Also, in the last week of June, the grocery association withdrew its petition seeking changes.
So there are those trying to change the 40 year old law. But apparently even during a global pandemic the government can't see why bringing used containers that people had their mouth on into a grocery store...is a bad idea.
Prepare yourself. If you are a redeemer or just somebody who goes to a grocery store. July 26 the lines will be back. The bottles and cans will be back. The nickels will be back.
You can learn more about the bottle bill law at the Iowa DNR website.