PELLA, Iowa — A new bottle and can redemption law has been settled on by Iowa lawmakers after a decade of attempts to re-write it. Under the new measure, grocers and other retailers can opt out of accepting cans and bottles. Those who do still redeem cans and bottles will be compensated at three cents per unit rather than 1 cent.
“22 years years I’ve been waiting for this day,” said Sheri Cunningham, owner of the Pella Can and Bottle Redemption Center, “It just feels like a big relief coming off my shoulders, worrying about how am I gonna pay my employees … how am I going to pay my cost.”
The redemption center was started by Cunningham’s father a number of years ago, she took over and now runs the family business. She takes in 100,000 cans and bottles a day.
“The grocery store gives that nickel to the distributor, Budweiser, or Pepsi, I take the bags from the customer I pay them five cents and then the distributor comes to me they pay me the five cents plus the penny so I get six cents. Now with a new law then they will pay me five cents +3 cents so I will have eight cents.”
At a pay rate of one cent per unit it was a challenge to keep going said Cunningham.
“I think the bottle bill is a fantastic program, what we tend to forget is it is not a recycling program is the land beautification program,” said Cunningham.
She said it’s possible some grocers may still continue redemption, and it’s also possible more people may want to open a redemption center. She has been lobbying for some sort of new bottle bill for years. The only thing she would like to see is water and Gatorade type bottles added to the law.
The original law was passed in 1978, was a way to keep Iowa’s road ditches free of thrown away cans and bottles.