Iowa’s Beverage Containers Control Law, also known as the “Bottle Bill,” was passed in 1978 as a litter control measure. Litter is reduced by encouraging recycling through a deposit-redemption system covering all carbonated and alcoholic beverage containers.
The popularity of this 40-year-old law is evident in the high level of participation by Iowa businesses and citizens. An estimated 71% of beverage containers are redeemed annually in Iowa, reducing litter, creating jobs and keeping materials out of landfills.
Does Iowa’s Bottle Bill need to be modernized? Yes! Until recently, Iowa’s container redemption rate was 85%. While the current rate of 71% is still more than twice as high as states without a Bottle Bill (29%), the lower rate reveals the need to update the legislation so more kinds of containers can be redeemed with improved convenience.
URGENT: ACTION NEEDED
Earlier this summer, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many U.S. deposit states, including Iowa, to temporarily halt enforcement actions on retailers who temporarily suspended bottle and can redemption activities.
In Iowa, Governor Reynolds lifted the temporary suspension on July 26, restoring the requirement for retailers to accept empty deposit containers. However, some Iowa retailers have announced they will refuse to redeem deposit containers in defiance of both Iowa Code and the governor's order.
The Iowa Recycling Association is asking impacted citizens to file formal complaints with the DNR and the Iowa Attorney General demanding that they enforce the law and put a stop to any retailers illegally rejecting deposit containers. You can make complaints to both agencies over the phone or in writing.
TO FILE A COMPLAINT
Call or email DNR
Call or email Attorney General
Email: [email protected]
The Iowa Grocery Industry Association (IGIA) has long opposed Iowa’s bottle bill, and now the group is making a concerted effort to harm the system by leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the CDC has never linked increased COVID-19 risk to bottle redemption nor has there been a case of redemption-related transmission reported anywhere in the country. Many of Iowa's stand-alone redemption centers have been safely operating throughout the pandemic by implementing safety measures similar to those used by food and beverage industries.
The refusal to resume redemption activities is unfair to Iowa consumers, who deserve to be able to claim their deposits where they buy beverages. It puts our environment at risk by hobbling the longest-running and most effective recycling program in Iowa history. And, it threatens small and large businesses up and down the supply chain that overwhelmingly depend on clean commodities to manufacture food and beverage containers. But perhaps worst of all, it sets a dangerous precedent for retailers that they can break the law with impunity. IGIA has publicly stated that it supports its member's position to refuse redemption activities.
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING IOWA'S BOTTLE BILL
IGIA FILES PETITIONS TO CHANGE IOWA’S BOTTLE BILL
petition for Rulemaking
April 2020 - The Iowa Grocery Industry Association (IGIA) has filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) which would significantly change Iowa’s container deposit system without input from the state legislature. In sum, the IGIA is asking the DNR to make four changes:
- Allow retailers to refuse to redeem cans and bottles if a redemption center or other comparable option is located within 15 miles of their store. Currently retailers must accept empty cans and bottles unless another point of redemption is designated and located within a ten-minute drive.
- Eliminate the requirement that DNR-approved redemption centers agree in advance to pick up deposit containers from retailers who request such services.
- Define “refund value” in the state’s administrative rules to mirror the existing five-cent figure in Iowa Code.
- Expand the definition of “dealer” to ensure all retailers that sell deposit beverage containers to accept empty cans and bottles.
Petition for delaratory order regarding the convenience standard
August 11, 2020 - The Iowa Grocery Industry Association (IGIA) filed a petition challenging DNR’s authority to administer a 10-minute “convenience standard”. Currently, to ensure easy access for consumers, retailers can only decline to accept containers if there is a DNR-certified redemption center within the convenience standard.
Status: On September 29th, the DNR denied this Petition for Declaratory Order. In its response, DNR recognized that the Iowa legislature enacted the bottle bill in the interests of consumers. Since Iowa consumers didn’t have an opportunity to participate in recent proceedings, the department noted it cannot issue a declaratory order in favor of IGIA. DNR also noted it would be “prudent” to wait for legislative guidance before taking unilateral action.
petition for declaratory order regarding dealer access
This petition challenged numerous aspects regarding the retailer/redemption center business relationship. Specifically, IGIA requested that the DNR create rules preventing redemption centers from charging fees to serve as a retailer’s point of redemption. Currently, retailers typically pay redemption centers located within the convenience zone a monthly fee, which helps defray the cost for redemption centers handling a much higher volume of containers.
Status: DNR officials have met with IGIA representatives and a response is forthcoming.
petition for declaratory order regarding dealers equality
Most recently, IGIA filed this petition claiming the DNR is selectively and unequally enforcing redemption against IGIA members which puts their members at an unequal competitive disadvantage. IGIA identifies the following noncompliant retailers: Dollar General, Inc.; Family Dollar, Inc.; Dollar Tree, Inc.; Menards; Lowe’s Home Improvement; Home Depot; Theisen’s Home Farm & Auto; and Fleet Farm.
Status: Consistent with previous petition requests, IGIA has requested a meeting with DNR Director and DNR legal staff. The Department must respond by October 29.
IRA Holding Position
The Iowa Recycling Association strongly supports Iowa’s bottle bill. For over 40 years, the bottle bill has kept our roads, ditches, and waterways clean, and it remains the most effective and efficient recycling program in state history. For decades, consumer convenience has been the engine that keeps the deposit system running, with the vast majority of Iowans claiming their deposits at retail locations.
Since its inception in 1979, Iowans have redeemed an estimated 48 billion containers. Therefore, it is essential that policymakers strongly consider consumer convenience before changing the current system. We oppose any effort to circumvent the Iowa legislature or otherwise limit public discussion on this matter, which affects all Iowans.
We look forward to participating in public conversations on how to modernize and strengthen Iowa’s bottle bill to benefit consumers and build on 40 years environmental progress achieved through this effective program.
about iowa's bottle bill
What has iowa's bottle bill accomplished?
Beverage container litter has been reduced by 77%, according to an Iowa DOT survey.
Iowa’s container recycling rate is among the top in the nation at over 71%. That’s two and a half times the recycling rate for containers in U.S. states without a Bottle Bill (29%).
Nearly 900 jobs are supported at redemption points. This includes jobs for disabled clients at numerous non-profit organizations across the state.
How does the bottle bill work?
The beverage distributor charges the retailer 5¢ for each carbonated or alcoholic beverage container delivered.
The retailer charges each consumer 5¢ for each container purchased.
The consumer gets 5¢ back from the retailer or redemption center when returning empties.
The beverage distributor pays the retailer/redemption center 5¢ plus a 1¢ handling fee when picking up empties.
NO MONEY IS PAID TO OR COLLECTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.
How can the bottle bill be improved?
Increase The Handling Fee
Iowa’s 1¢ handling fee has remained unchanged since 1979 and is the lowest among all container-deposit states. As costs have risen, two-thirds of Iowa’s redemption centers have closed. By increasing the handling fee, more redemption centers will open … creating new jobs, relieving pressure on grocery stores as a point of redemption and making recycling more convenient!
Include Water & Sports Drink Containers
Bottled water and sports drinks were not available in 1979 when Iowa’s Bottle Bill was created. These beverages now make up over half of the state’s containerized beverage purchases, and are landfilled at twice the rate of redeemable containers. By expanding the Bottle Bill to include water and sports drinks, Iowans will be encouraged to return these containers.
Do iowans support the bottle bill?
A 2017 poll conducted by J. Ann Selzer found 88% of active Iowa voters say the Bottle Bill has been good for the state. The latest poll, conducted in January 2018, shows 30% of Iowans favor keeping the law the way it is, while another 27% want to expand it to include juice and water bottles.
Strong support is found by Iowans of all ages and political persuasions.
Sources and more information
- Economics of the Iowa Bottle Bill >>(Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University)
- Bottle Bill Facts >> (iowabottlebill.com)
- Iowa’s Bottle Bill Fact Sheet >> (Iowa Policy Project)
- Iowa’s Bottle Bill >> (Recycling Policy Study Committee, Department of Natural Resources)
- Bottle Deposit Law >> (Iowa Department of Natural Resources)
- Bottle Bill Resource Guide >> (Container Research Institute)
- State Beverage Container Deposit Laws >> (National Conference of State Legislatures)
- Container Deposit Law >> (Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association)
panel discussion: the bottle bill past and future
In October 2017, Iowa Grocery Association Industry representatives and Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, participated in a panel discussion at the Iowa Recycling and Solid Waste Management Conference.
- WATCH VIDEO of panel discussion >>
- VIEW Susan Collins’ presentation >>
- VIEW Iowa Grocery Industry presentation >>
- VIEW questions submitted prior to and during the panel discussion >>
Contact your legislator
We encourage you to contact your Legislator and share your thoughts about the proposed legislation. Find contact information and learn about other ways to interact with your representatives on our Advocacy page.