Bottle Returns Spike During Pandemic 

The Oregon Bottle Bill was passed in 1971, and currently adds a dime to the price of every bottle and can of beer, soda, and similar drinks. The used bottles and cans can be redeemed to get the ten cents backs. 

People are redeeming bottles and cans much more since COVID-19 hit the U.S., suggesting that people are buying more beverages for home consumption and making sure they get their deposits back, according to a report from the Register-Guard. 

The Register-Guard reported that more and more people are utilizing the drop-and-go recyclable return program. Since late April, an average of 1,000 new BottleDrop accounts have been created daily in Oregon, according to Joel Schoening, the cooperative’s community relations manager. There are now 525,000 accounts statewide, with 120,000 added in the past six months, he said. 

When the pandemic led to statewide stay-home orders, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission relaxed collection requirements for stores, putting the burden to process all redeemable bottles and cans on redemption centers. 

″(Grocery stores) closed their bottle-return operations so they could focus on keeping shelves stocked, but what that meant for bottle and can returns was that, overnight, 35% of the system was shut down,” Schoening told the Register-Guard. “We’d been taking about 64% of returns statewide and all of the sudden we were taking 100 percent of returns.” 

Some “reverse vending machines,” where cans are hand-fed, were subsequently closed off for social distancing compliance around the state. The reverse vending machines are situated like kiosks side-by-side along a wall of the redemption center — now, they are individually partitioned, according to Schoening. 

“People who have a backlog of bottles and cans in their garages right now, storing them up and waiting for the right time to bring them back, should look for a local nonprofit to donate to them,” Schoening said. 

By Cody Mann