Bottle Bill Expansion Measure Unanimously Passes Subcommittee

Bottle bill supporters scored an important victory Tuesday, with HF 181 passing subcommittee in the House.  The bill, introduced by Rep. Andy McKean (R-Anamosa), would expand the five-cent deposit to many non-carbonated beverages, including plastic water bottles.  It would also double the handling fee for redemption centers to two cents per container.  The debate among attendees was intense, with the Iowa Grocery Industry Association (IGIA) offering the strongest protest.  Casey’s General Stores joined the IGIA in arguing that expanding the deposit would gobble up more square footage, which is already at a premium.  The Iowa Beverage Association opposed HF 181 on the grounds that the increased handling fee would harm soda distributors’ bottom lines.  The Iowa Association of Business and Industry also came out against the measure. 

The Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association declared themselves “agnostic” on HF 181, saying they believed there was a better solution.  Doll Distributing, which handles primarily beer, along with some bottled water and liquor beverages, came out in opposition to the measure.  Doll said the company is working with the IGIA on a bill centered around their new, proprietary can and bottle redemption program.

Supporters of bottle bill expansion, however, far outnumbered the groups working against HF 181.  The Iowa Recycling Association spoke out in favor of the bill, along with Mid America Recycling President Mick Barry and Can Shed redemption center owner Troy Willard.  Ten other bottle bill coalition members, including the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and the Iowa League of Women Voters, also voiced their support.

Rep. McKean, who chaired the subcommittee, voted to pass the legislation, as did Reps. Rob Bacon (R-Sioux City) and Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City).  The bill now moves to the full House Environmental Protection Committee for consideration.  HF 181 must pass committee before the March 8 “funnel” to stay alive for the remainder of the 2019 legislative session.