A rapid increase in bottle and can redemption since the COVID-19 pandemic began suggests people are buying more beverages to drink at home — and recycling to get their deposit money back in their pockets. Edward Ulbricht, 61, is a seasoned recycler who seeks cans to make a couple of bucks here and there. He calls it “canning,” hunting discarded cans in public spaces and recycling so they can be collected and returned for cash thanks to the Oregon Bottle Bill.
Introduced in 1971, the bill adds a 10-cent deposit to the sale of every bottle and can of beer, soda and similar beverages sold in Oregon, which can be redeemed by returning the bottle. Ulbricht is just one of many Oregonians who can be found at one of the local BottleDrop sites, a statewide network of deposit redemption centers. The centers, operated by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, process returnables on-site and offer a service that allows consumers to drop off their bottles in specially marked green bags to be counted and credited to their accounts.
More and more people are utilizing the drop-and-go recyclable return program. Since late April, the state has seen an average of 1,000 new BottleDrop accounts being created daily, said Joel Schoening, the cooperative’s community relations manager. “We opened 100,000 accounts in the last four months,” he said. There are now 525,000 accounts statewide, with 120,000 added in the past six months, he said.