Gov. Kitzhaber signs vast expansion of Oregon bottle bill

2 Min Read
Gov. Kitzhaber signs vast expansion of Oregon bottle bill

Gov. John Kitzhaber cemented what is perhaps the biggest victory for the state's environmental lobby this session when he signed a wide-ranging revamp of the state's iconic bottle bill Thursday morning, June 9, 2011.

The governor's signature caps more than four years of negotiations around the expansion of the decades-old bottle deposit system.

"This is a great day for Oregon," Kitzhaber said. "A lot can change over 40 years. This legislation brings Oregon's bottle bill up to date.

"This bill, this day, has been a long time coming."

Under House Bill 3145, three key changes would take place:
-- The system would begin a shift from the in-store collection system to one that relies more heavily, though not exclusively, on off-site redemption centers.

-- No later than 2018, the types of beverage containers covered would be expanded to include just about any glass, metal or plastic beverage container, except for those those that hold milk, wine or liquor.

-- Finally, it would increase the current nickel deposit to a dime if redemption rates fall below 80 percent two years in a row. Currently redemption rates average 75 percent.

This is only the second edit to the state's first-in-the-nation bottle bill during its 40-year lifetime. The first came just years ago, in 2007, when the Legislature added water bottles to the list of containers that Oregonians could return for their nickel deposit.

Lawmakers returned two years later hoping to expand the system further by adding containers for sports drinks, coffee, juice, tea and other beverages of that sort. Distributors and grocers balked, however, asking for more time to get the system used to the increased load that water represented.

Two years later, after two trial redemption centers proved highly popular, the former opponents lent their support to further expansion.

That support seems to have made all the difference; the legislation the governor signed Thursday was able to make it through both the Oregon House and Senate with bi-partisan, if not necessarily unanimous, support.

"So much has to go right for a bill to pass," said Rep. Ben Cannon, a Portland Democrat and the driving force behind this bill, just before the governor signed the legislation into law. The state's bottle bill, Cannon added, "is about who we are as Oregonians. It's about ethos."

And with that, the governor sat at his desk, and signed his name. "We have a bill," he said to instant applause.


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