BOTTLE BILL F.A.Q.

As a supporter of the “Better Bottle Bill,” what can I do to see that it passes?

First and foremost, please join the movement by clicking here.  Thereafter, call and e-mail your Senator and Representative to express your support for modernizing the Bottle Bill and let them know that a “Better Bottle Bill” is a top priority for you and your community.  You can also "like" us on FaceBook and "follow" us on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news and developments.  Last, but not least, you can also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, attend legislative forums and talk to your friends and neighbors about the importance of supporting this importance cause.  

What is the history of the"Iowa Bottle Bill?"

The Iowa Legislature passed the “Iowa Bottle Bill” in bi-partisan fashion and former Governor Robert D. Ray signed the bill into legislation in 1979.  In over three decades since its adoption and despite numerous changes in consumer buying habits during the past quarter century (including the widespread adoption and popularity of bottled water), Iowa's Bottle Bill has not been modernized to meet the ever-changing beverage container marketplace.

How does the “Better Bottle Bill” modernize existing Iowa law?

The “Better Bottle Bill” will allow popular, non-carbonated beverages such as water, tea, and sports drink containers - items not customarily purchased in beverage containers in the 1970s - to be recycled at the extraordinarily high rates (86% of all Bottle Bill bottles are recycled compared to their non-Bottle Bill counterparts at 26%) enjoyed by all other items currently covered under Iowa's popular Bottle Bill.  In fact, modernizing Iowa's Bottle Bill to reflect the realities of today's marketplace will result in over 500 million additional containers recycled - ANNUALLY - under the successful program, a terrific outcome that will naturally remove unwanted bottles and cans from Iowa’s ditches, waterways, fields, and landfills. Further, redemption locations, including retailers and local redemption centers, will earn better compensation for their work, without any additional cost to consumers.  The necessary infrastructure and systems are already in place to easily facilitate modernization and Iowan's on both sides of the aisle are ready to support modernization in overwhelming numbers - now is the time to modernize Iowa's most successful recycling program.

Do other states enjoy the benefits of a modernized bottle bill?

Yes.  From New York to Hawaii, numerous states enjoy the benefits of a modernized bottle bill.  Notably, beginning in October 2005 and ending October 2010, Connecticut, New York, and Oregon added containers for water to the list of beverage containers covered under their respective bottle bills.  In addition to the foregoing, Hawaii, Maine, and California also encourage recycling by providing for redemption of non-carbonated beverages through their respective bottles bills.

Has the “Iowa Bottle Bill” been successful?

Iowa's widely-recognized and overwhelmingly popular Bottle Bill is nothing short of a smashing success. Indeed, as a direct result of Iowa's Bottle Bill, Iowa is recognized as a worldwide leader in recycling.  Moreover, Iowa's Bottle Bill continues to create and support hundreds of good jobs and nearly ninety percent of plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans are diverted from our beautiful lands and costly landfills and make it back to our redemption centers where their value is salvaged and materials are reused.  Iowa’s Bottle Bill has made major strides toward keeping Iowa beautiful, preserving our bountiful natural resources, and guaranteeing generations of Iowans to come the ability to enjoy our parks and trails without the blight of unwanted and unnecessary litter.

How many Iowa jobs are tied directly to the “Iowa Bottle Bill”?

Iowa's current Bottle Bill supports over 870 Iowa jobs.  According to a detailed study performed by the well-respected Iowa State University economist, Dr. Dermot Hayes, a modernized Bottle Bill will not only protect the existing 870 Iowa jobs and salvage hundreds of millions of new containers, but it will create over 330 new Iowa jobs if the legislation is passed this session.

Is “Better Bottle Bill” popular in Iowa?

Yes. According to 2013 polling conducted by Selzer and Company for the Des Moines Register, 64 percent of Iowans support modernizing Iowa’s Bottle Bill.  The 2013 poll clearly demonstrates a “Better Bottle Bill” enjoys overwhelming support across Iowa and that it is a non-partisan issue as majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike support modernizing Iowa’s Bottle Bill.  A broad group of supporters also support modernizing the Bottle Bill.  Join the movement today.

Other than consumers, distributors, retailers and redemption centers, who else benefits from this law?

Countless civic and community organizations, charities, schools and churches benefit from and depend upon this popular law to make differences in the lives of those around us.  Many generous Iowans consistently donate their cans and bottles to charities and groups who are investing those dollars right back into our communities.  Modernizing Iowa's Bottle Bill will further support such efforts.

What happens to all the bottles, cans, and beverage containers that are redeemed?

Beverage containers covered by Iowa's Bottle Bill are recycled and returned to the market at rates nearly triple their non-bottle bill counterparts.  As such, their value is preserved and the valuable materials are reused in many everyday applications.  In fact, as a result of Iowa's Bottle Bill, Iowa is recognized is a leading exporter of this important, high-quality recyclable material, creating yet another class of valuable jobs.  Perhaps most importantly, however, these valuable containers, which take hundreds of years to breakdown, are kept out of our environment and landfills and are reused over and over again.

What do“Better Bottle Bill” critics say in an effort to dissuade lawmakers and the public from supporting the movement?

Opponents argue that recycling bottles - a task largely handled by automated machines - requires cleaning redemption areas and that our existing container bottle system is a relic of the past that should be abandoned in favor of single-stream, curbside recycling programs where Iowans are asked to drop a mixture of various materials into one bin where everything is commingled.  Research demonstrates, however, that single-stream, curbside recycling and beverage redemption programs, such as Iowa’s Bottle Bill, actually compliment each other and work well together.  And while single-stream, curbside recycling and Iowa's Bottle Bill work together, it cannot be overlooked that many Iowans rely upon the Bottle Bill as they do not reside in areas where single-stream recycling programs exist.  Consequently, for much of Iowa, the Bottle Bill provides one of the only, if not the only, recycling programs available.

Is Iowa’s Bottle Bill a tax on consumers? 

No.  Consumers are fully reimbursed their entire $.05 deposit upon redemption.  In short, Iowa’s Bottle Bill is designed to incentivize recycling through redemption and to eliminate all costs to consumers.  Comparatively, single-stream recycling programs rely upon local tax subsidies for support.

Will expansion of the Bottle Bill create public health problems?

No.  In the 35 years the Bottle Bill has been in force, not a single case has been documented of a patron becoming sick as the result of exposure to redeemed containers in retail stores.  More importantly, the addition of automated redemption machines in outdoor areas connected to stores makes the process more efficient for both consumers and retailers.  

Are retail locations such as grocery and convenience stores forced to accept and redeem empty bottles and cans? 

No.  Existing Iowa law permits grocery and convenience stores to designate a local redemption center, often locally owned small businesses, as the location where consumers may redeem empty bottles and cans.