'They should have had one of these years ago!'
EUGENE, Ore. - In 1971, Governor Tom McCall passed the Oregon Bottle Bill, making our state the first in the nation with a bottle return program.
More than four decades later, Oregonians continue to blaze the trail in sustainability, and now have nearly a dozen cetralized bottle drop centers around the state.
The first one in Western Oregon opened in West Eugene in July 2014.
After nearly 6 months in business, customers are giving BottleDrop at 2105 W. Broadway positive feedback.
"I believe they should have had one of these years ago!" said Eugene resident "Animal." "It's way more convenient and fast than having to stand in line and wait for a clerk to decide to take your cans."
Shelly Edmisson agrees.
She said the experience at the bottle drop center is superior to traditional bottle rooms in grocery stores. "The stores, those stink! I went to several stores and they all jam up, and then you can't get help, and it's extremely [...] frustrating!"
According to Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative spokesperson Cherilyn Bertges, the center offers three ways to deposit your cans:
1. Hand Count - Recyclers may take up to 50 containers to an attendant at the front counter. That employee will count the containers by hand and issue a reciept, which is redeemable at cash kiosks in the building.
2. Self Drop - Recyclers may take an unlimited number of cans to the self service reverse vending machines. The machine will issue a receipt which may be redeemed at the cash kiosks.
3. Green Bag - After registering for the Green Bag Program, recyclers may take bags home to fill themselves. When they are full, recyclers may drop them off any time using either the outdoor drop bin or indoor drop bin, during business hours. The first two bags are completely free. Subsequent bags cost 15 cents each and 25 cents to deposit. The refund is then put on the recycler's account and may be redeemed at area grocery stores participating in the program.
"We're really excited about the Green Bag Program!" Bertges said. "School kids will you know open an account and raise money for their choir trip by using our green bag system. So it just creates another avenue for fundraising and community ventures."
Oregon Redemption Center also recently sponsored a bottle drive benfiting Food For Lane County, in which they raised $1,100 worth of bottle returns from the community.
Bertges said the new self-service kiosks automatically sort plastic, aluminum, and glass, making for efficient redemption and recycling.
"It could be crushed, broke, that kind of thing. This machine takes them, no problem!" said Jake Smith of Eugene. "It works great. Really fast, really efficient."
"Because we don't have to deal with a lot of contamination or commingling, our recycling rate is really, really high," Bertges said.
Bertges addsed that all of the recycling material goes to American factories, with most of the product staying here in Oregon.
But what if you don't want to go to the Oregon Redemption Center, or are unable to bring your cans there?
"Basically any grocery store that's within a mile and a half radius is going to completely close their bottle room if they're participating in the project," Bertges "And any store that's between a one and a half to three mile radius will continue to accept 24 containers a day, but may remove their machines."