DES MOINES, IOWA — Forty-four years in the making, Iowa lawmakers have finally passed changes to the bottle bill.
The bill will change the 1-cent handling fee for redemption centers to 3-cents. Retailers are also able to get that 3-cent handling fee if they want to continue to collect cans; but the legislation has several ways for businesses to get out of collecting.
“Dealers will be able to opt-out effective upon enactment if they meet one of several provisions. And that would be a food establishment license is held,” said State Senator Jason Schultz, (R) from Schleswig. “That would include all main grocery stores and convenience stores, leaving just a few retailers selling pop and not food.”
There are several other ways for a retailer to get out of collecting bottles and cans, like if a retailer is within a certain amount of miles of a bottle redemption center.
The bill passed the House with a lot of bipartisan support, but in the Senate on Monday it was a different story. The vote was 30-15, with all of the “no” votes belonging to Democrats. The concern from the party came from the lack of convenience the bill will provide to consumers.
“But we are going to let the people who sell bottles and cans essentially off the hook for collecting cans and when we do that we are going to make it a lot harder to bring their bottles or cans back,” said State Senator Joe Bolkcom, (D) from Iowa City. “We are still going to charge consumers 5 cents for the privilege of buying a bottle or a can. But what we are going to find is a reduction in the number of bottles and cans that are getting recycled.”
Bolkcom also added that it was an estimated $40-50 million that consumers wouldn’t see back in their pockets if they chose not to return their cans.