Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal Feb. 17.
Iowa’s “bottle bill” is, according to one Iowa State University economist, “falling apart” after more than 40 years.
“It’s not going to work much longer,” Dermot Hayes warned in a Feb. 7 Journal Des Moines bureau story prior to presentations before state Senate and House committees considering changes to the law passed in 1978.
The problem, he said, is the legislation wasn’t indexed for inflation.
“The container recycling rate has fallen to about 71 percent, and the 1-cent handling fee doesn’t cover the actual costs for redemption centers,” Hayes said.
We are open-minded to dialogue within the state of ways to modernize the “bottle bill.” Because we believe it discourages litter and encourages recycling, we do not wish to see the law repealed unless it’s replaced by a program through which the state remains committed in strong fashion to those laudable goals. We believe most Iowans agree with us. In fact, an Iowa poll conducted in January 2018 for The Des Moines Register and Mediacom of 801 Iowans by Iowa-based Selzer & Co. showed 57 percent of respondents believe the “bottle bill” should stay the way it is or should be expanded.
To these ends, we believe several proposals floated at the Statehouse between last year’s session and this year’s session merit consideration. They include:
Increasing the deposit fee.
Increasing the handling fee paid to redemption centers.
Expanding the deposit to include more beverage containers, such as those for water, juice and sports drinks.
Whatever shape and direction it takes, this discussion shouldn’t result in our state moving backward. The focus should be on identifying the most effective ways of keeping Iowa clean and promoting Iowa as a national leader in recycling.