116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa lawmakers must remember that Iowa's revolutionary container deposit law legislation does not cost taxpayers one cent: The cost is borne by those who profit - the distributors and retailers (grocers).
Iowa's bill should be continued, updated and expanded to contain measures that really benefit consumers and the environment - redemption. It's important to remember that recycling is a cost to municipalities, which means taxpayers pay, and not all Iowa communities have access to recycling programs.
Retail stores should be required to continue redemption for beverage containers they sell. Allowing grocers to opt out of redemption creates an additional burden on consumers who must drive to a center to redeem the deposit - 10, 15 or 20 miles is too much. Because driving to reclaim deposit fees might be inconvenient, recycling may increase. That often means contamination. So instead of a single-use containers having multiple uses, virgin materials are needed to manufacture containers. Let's all remember that grocers and distributors are profiting from the sale of beverages.
' Lawmakers should increase both the deposit and the handling fees. Increasing the deposit fee will increase redemption. Increasing the handling fee will make it economically viable for entrepreneurs and retailers - and perhaps retailers will want to stay or get into redemption instead of trying to opt out.
' Lawmakers should expand the redemption to include more bottles and cans that use the very same containers (i.e., bottled water, tea and energy drinks) as current beverages covered by the existing law.
' Lawmakers should stringently-enforce penalties to be assessed to violators and determine what agency will assess the penalties and ensure adherence to the law.
' Lawmakers should shift the responsibilities for the container deposit law to the Department of Revenue from the Department of Natural Resources. This approach would be fiscally responsible, accountable and traceable.
' Retailers should consider incorporating reverse vending technology (automated redemption machines) in their facilities.
Other states have better solutions for unclaimed deposits:
They're retained by the program or state in five states and Guam, divided and distributed to environmental programs and retail stores in two states (stores must request) and retained by distributors in 3 states.
Today, the argument in Iowa is who will profit. It's always about the money - and there's a lot of it involved, which is why there is so much at stake. Iowa lawmakers should take the money out of the equation and benefit the state's environment that sorely needs help. If legislators take this courageous approach - taxpayers will win and the environment will win. Distributors and retailers still win from the profits they make from the sale of the beverages.
We're all in this together and we'll all get through this together. We can achieve success all Iowans deserve, but only if we work together and do not sidestep responsibilities.
Linda Schreiber lives in Iowa City.