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Recycling crisis hasn’t changed bottle law

A long article on the front page of the March 12 MT and continued inside the section, dealt with the new rules from Rogue Disposal and Recycling, which will seriously impact how we can dispose of our paper, plastic and glass materials. The article did not mention the fact that most local retail stores no longer recycle the deposit bottles and cans for a refund of 10 cents each, because the organizations that formerly picked up the large volume of such containers from the back rooms of the stores no longer do so. Please tell your readers where we can still go to turn in these items to recoup the 10 cents each which we paid.

— Ray S., Medford

OK, here’s the deal, Ray: You can either go to the bottle redemption center at 1179 Stowe Ave., off of Rossanley Drive about a third of a mile west of Sage Road, or you can redeem bottles at stores that are at least a certain distance away from the redemption center. That is not a change from recent years nor related to the Rogue Disposal changes with recyclable materials.

A state law, ORS 459A.737, that was passed in 2015 created redemption centers and “convenience zones,” which allows stores within 3.5 miles of a redemption center to opt out of or limit accepting bottle and can returns. With Medford’s redemption center at Stowe Ave., virtually all of Medford west of Foothill and North Phoenix roads falls within that radius, along with much of Central Point.

Stores are able to limit their acceptance of containers based on which convenience zone they’re in. The first convenience zone extends for a radius of 2 miles around the redemption center. The second zone extends to 3.5 miles. Grocery stores within the first zone can decline to accept bottles or cans from customers. In the second zone, stores can refuse to accept more than 24 bottles or cans. Outside the zones, stores of 5,000 or more square feet must accept up to 144 bottles or cans per day and stores of less than 5,000 square feet must accept up to 50 containers.

Stores within the zones that refuse or limit bottle/can returns must agree to reimburse redemption center customers who are owed money on their accounts.

You can set up an account at the redemption center, and in doing so will also be able to drop off bags of bottles and cans rather than feed them into a machine one at a time. A sticker with a bar code corresponding to the customer’s account records the returns and the customer can be reimbursed for the deposits at the participating stores.

Redemption centers will accept up to 350 containers per person per day. In Southern Oregon, there are also redemption centers in Grants Pass and Klamath Falls.

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@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.