116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - Legislation that would make major changes to Iowa's bottle-deposit law cleared the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee on a 7-4 party-line vote Wednesday.
Under Senate File 368, grocery stores in Iowa could opt out of state requirements to accept empty, nickel-deposit beverage containers they sell effective July 1, 2022, if an authorized redemption center is within a 20-mile radius of their businesses.
The bill also would change the redemption process for cans and bottles by temporarily doubling the handling fee to 2 cents per container.
The state's Alcoholic Beverages Division would get the nickel deposits and be in charge of reimbursing redemption centers. Those nickel deposits now go to beer and beverage distributors.
Starting in 2023, the handling fee would lower to 1.5 cents, but the centers would keep the scrap value of the materials for recycling, and a separate fund would be set up to return proceeds of unclaimed containers to taxpayers.
'It's time to modernize the bottle bill,” said Sen. Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa.
Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, said the proposed revisions would remove consumer convenience - for a program that is 'extremely popular” with Iowans - without addressing issues like expanding the list of covered containers.
'This bill does nothing to provide more consumer convenience, it does nothing to encourage recycling, it won't reduce litter on our roads in our landfills or lakes, it won't include more containers like water bottles that proliferate all over our landscape right now,” she said.
Rozenboom, however, said he 'purposefully” took a targeted approach to avoid issues that have bogged down past efforts to update the 1978 bill.
'It's my sense that there's some weariness in this building with never having done anything to change it in 40-plus years and to one year after another have the same discussions and the same battles,” he said.
'My goal with this bill was to try to change that discussion - to make simple, fundamental changes to the program. I think it's time for us to get off dead center with this bottle bill program in Iowa,” he added.
Also Wednesday, the committee voted to give state officials discretion to decide if Iowans convicted of littering along public highways, lands or waters should temporarily lose some of their privileges - for up to one year - to legally hunt, fish or engage in other activities under the control of the state Natural Resource Commission.
The bills move to the Senate debate calendar for further consideration.
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