Oregon adds deposit on water bottles starting Jan. 1

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon retailers must charge a 5 cent deposit on water and flavored water containers starting Jan. 1, 2009, one of the changes to the state's bottle bill mandated by the last legislature.

Did you know?

  • Oregon's Bottle Bill was the very first bottle deposit program in the United States? Since then, ten other states have adopted similar programs.
  • Since 1971, the amount of beverage containers in litter along Oregon roadsides has dropped from 40 percent to 6 percent.
  • Recycled beverage containers are used to make hundreds of products including fleece jackets, carpeting, baseball bats, license plates, and insulation as well as new beverage containers.
  • Recycling a ton of plastic bottles saves approximately 3.8 barrels of oil.
  • Recycling one pound of PET (polyethylene terphthalate) plastic bottles saves approximately 12,000 BTUs of energy.
  • Using recycled materials uses 2/3 less energy than using raw (virgin) materials.
Source: Oregon Liquor Control Commission

Water and flavored water will require a deposit in Oregon, just like beer and malt beverages; soda and mineral water; and carbonated soft drinks.

Senate Bill 707 also requires retailers who sell any products from any of the above four categories to accept back all brands and sizes of beverage containers for each category, even if the store doesn't sell a particular brand.

Currently, retailers only have to accept bottles of brands sold by the store. The change means beer bottles, for example, will be returnable anywhere beer is sold.

One caveat: the requirement only affects retailers with 5,000 square foot or larger stores.

"You can take it back everywhere, and that is a great advancement," said Jerry Powell, a longtime advocate of the Oregon Bottle Bill and editor of the Portland-based trade magazine Resource Recycling.

Grocers, distributors and producers are scrambling to prepare for the changes.

"We're moving frantically right now to be sure that we're as ready as we possibly can be," said Dan Floyd, Safeway's director of public affairs and government relations for Oregon. "But it's going to be difficult the first few months. No doubt about it."

Retailers have a number of concerns, among them the possibility that people will stock up on bottles before Jan. 1, paying no deposit, and then return them after the first of the year to collect.

Bottle bill advocate Powell, however, said that's unlikely. He said stores would probably end up collecting more deposits on water bottles than customers redeem, given that it will take some time for people to catch on.

Although these changes mark some of the first since the bill was adopted in 1971, they may not be the last.

A task force has recommended a number of additional changes to the 2009 Legislature. They include increasing the refundable deposit to a dime and further expanding the sorts of beverages covered.

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