IOWA'S BOTTLE BILL

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
Phone: 515-725-8200
Link to Comment Submission Form
 
Call or email Attorney General
Phone: 888-777-4590
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 #1

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Eliminate the requirement that DNR-approved redemption centers agree in advance to pick up deposit containers from retailers who request such services.
  3. Define “refund value” in the state’s administrative rules to mirror the existing five-cent figure in Iowa Code.
  4. Expand the definition of “dealer” to ensure all retailers that sell deposit beverage containers to accept empty cans and bottles.

A copy of the IGIA Petition for Rulemaking can be found here >>

The Iowa Recycling Association does not support any changes to the Iowa bottle bill that are not thoroughly vetted by lawmakers through the legislative process. We strongly support the bottle bill and look forward to participating in public conversations on how to modernize and strengthen the current system to benefit consumers and build on the environmental progress our state has achieved through this effective program.

PETITION #2

August 11, 2020

The Iowa Grocery Industry Association (IGIA) has filed a second Petition for Rulemaking with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requesting a Declaratory Judgment. The IGIA is challenging whether the DNR can use the 10-minute travel standard to approve or deny retailer applications to partner with redemptions centers. IGIA maintains that the DNR has never enacted administrative rules codifying the 10-minute convenience standard, rendering it “arbitrary and capricious.”

A copy of the Second IGIA Petition for A Declaratory Judgment can be found here >>

The Iowa Recycling Association does not support any changes to the Iowa bottle bill that are not thoroughly vetted by lawmakers through the legislative process. We strongly support the bottle bill and look forward to participating in public conversations on how to modernize and strengthen the current system to benefit consumers and build on the environmental progress our state has achieved through this effective program.

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.

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WHAT HAS IOWA’S BOTTLE BILL ACCOMPLISHED?

LESS LITTER

Beverage container litter has been reduced by 77%, according to an Iowa DOT survey.

MORE RECYCLING

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%).

MORE JOBS

Nearly 900 jobs are supported at redemption points. This includes jobs for disabled clients at numerous non-profit organizations across the state.

bottle bill


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.
 

water bottles


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.

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DO IOWANS SUPPORT THE BOTTLE BILL?

OVERWHELMINGLY, THE ANSWER IS YES!

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.

LEARN MORE

Sources and more information


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.

 


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.