PELLA, Iowa — Last year, the Iowa Legislature passed and the Governor signed a new bottle redemption law into effect.

The new law will be administered by the Iowa DNR. People involved in the recycling of cans, bottles, and glass must be registered with the DNR. Those who accept and sort bottles and cans will now get 3 cents per unit, as compared to 1 cent in the prior law.

Amie Davidson, Chief of the DNR Land Quality Bureau said they would work with people sending out letters to explain the new law to those who may not be aware. She said that if there is some type of infraction the DNR has the authority to issue a citation.

“That’s one of the perks of the new rules is the DNR actually has some authoritative power to impose fines and penalties not only are redemption centers for distributors in grocery stores,” said Sheri Amos, owner of the Pella Redemption Center. “They don’t follow the law and that was one of the problems before January 1, as you know, they could tell us, advise or guide us, but did not enforce anything, they really didn’t have any power to do that.”

Under the new law, it is possible for grocery stores and other beverage sellers to continue the container redemption, or not.

“Hy-Vee remains status quo as of right now across Iowa and have no major changes to announce in our communities,” said Nola Aigner Davis, of Hy-Vee, in an email.

Amos said she noted that Hy-Vee in her area southeast of Des Moines were all continuing as they had before to take cans and bottles.

But Fareway no longer accepts cans and bottles for redemption.

“Each location has a posting showing nearby redemption centers, where customers may redeem bottles and cans,” said Emily Toribio, of Fareway in an email statement.  “In many communities, we have also partnered to provide outside bins to donate to local non-profits/causes.” 

Fareway has concerns about handling cans and bottles inside its stores.

“Accepting used containers inside our stores presents health, safety, and other concerns for both our employees and customers,” said Toribio. “We do not want either handling used containers in an establishment that handles and sells fresh food.”

“I know that grocery stores can opt-out, which makes it a little farther for you to travel but the longer those of us who are established can stay, more redemption centers will open up, so don’t give up on the law if you can’t find a redemption center close by yet.”

For longtime redemption centers the price increase was welcome news.

“We are now getting three cents instead of one so it’s been the same for 40 years and I’ve been doing it for 22 so I’ve been trying to run my business on one penny, that basically is about 300% increase,” said Amos. “We are hopefully going to catch up a little bit, I’m not going to say it’s done amazing things, because we’re still trying to catch up, in 40 years of no you know of no increase.”

She said the new wrinkle with the new law, is that distributors, who are paying the centers 3 cents, actually need the materials to produce new containers.

If you would like to learn more about the specifics of the new Iowa Bottle Law, click here.