There might be a significant reduction in the number of places that redeem cans and bottles in Iowa when changes to the state’s bottle bill go into effect. The redemption businesses that remain are worried about a sudden influx of containers similar to what they experienced after the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Some fear it will sour Iowans’ attitudes about recycling the containers.
The Sierra Club of Iowa estimates that about 1,700 businesses that sell the beverages are required to take back those containers right now, but changes to the law that were signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds last week and will go into effect July 1 will exempt most of those businesses that prepare ready-to-eat food. That includes a large number of grocery stores and those within a certain distance of a redemption center.
There are 121 active redemption centers in the state, according to an Iowa Department of Natural Resources list, but the Sierra Club and the owner of the state’s largest redemption business estimate the true number is closer to 60 because many of the centers listed by the DNR have closed. That’s fewer than the number of counties in Iowa. The redemption centers are poised to see a spike in the number of beverage containers they receive. In January, the amount of money they are paid by beverage distributors to redeem the containers will triple from one to three cents per bottle or can. That would appear to be a boon for redemption center profits, but there are other concerns.