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Legislature behind bottle-redemption changes

A local supermarket removed all bottle return stations and said they are forced "by law" to only accept 24 bottles at a time. I walked in with 19 bottles the other day, and felt like a leprous oddball for daring to ask for a refund. What is the reason for this law? Who's behind it? Retailers? Bottle manufacturers? Some Scrooge who has a problem with people picking up other people's trash and turning in the deposit?

— "Reluctant Customer," via email


Just once here at Since You Asked headquarters, we wish the answer to a question could be "some Scrooge." Unfortunately, we'll have to wait another day.

To answer your query, we reached out to Cherilyn Bertges, public relations and outreach manager with the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative.  Its the organization that coordinates bottle refund collection in our fair state and runs the BottleDrop collection centers, including the one installed at 1179 Stowe Ave. in Medford at the end of 2014.

If you're wondering who's behind the change, it's the Oregon Legislature.

"They're the ones who passed the bill, just like the original bottle bill," Bertges said.

One of those changes to the original Oregon Beverage Container act is that stores located from 2 to 3.5 miles from a BottleDrop redemption center must accept a minimum of 24 containers.

"It's not that they can't accept more," Bertges said. "It's up to them if they want to pay for 26 or so."

She said many store locations have adhered to the minimum requirements of the law as a store policy because the stores are paying into the program that moved recycling off-site.

"The stores like participating in the BottleDrop because it handles sort of the messy business when they're trying to sell food," Bertges said. "Distributors and retailers come together to pay for the center, and we run them."

The BottleDrop redemption center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, and Bertges said the center is better equipped and better prepared to assist with bottle returns than stores ever were.

"We have more machines than any store ever had, so wait times are shorter," Bertges said. "It's so much easier, it's cleaner and we have really friendly staff on site to help."

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.