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Nickels! Nickels! Nickels! Cashing in on bottle return

My mom is visiting from Hawaii, and was interested in how our bottle deposit and redemption system works in Oregon. Having just finished the Master Recycler course, and having actually paid attention to the news as the Oregon bottle bill was updated this year for the first time since it was written 36 years ago, I had the knowledge to explain.

Here's the gist of it: Oregon retailers charge a 5 cent deposit (above and beyond the cost of the drink) on soda cans, beer bottles, mineral waters. This year it was updated to include non-fizzy waters. To get your deposit money back, you take it back to a retailer, such as a grocery store, and hang out in the parking lot plugging your bottles and cans into sticky vending machines, and cash out when you are finished. If you don't collect the deposit, the money stays with the beverage distributor. In all cases, the retailers, who do all the work here, don't get anything out of the deal. That's why they are not terribly excited about the bottle bill.

Personally, I've always preferred the convenience of putting all of our bottles in the curbside bin. I haven't sweated the loss of the nickels (although Cheap-o-Dad is seriously rethinking that one). But my interest was piqued when Lauren, coordinator of the Master Recycler program, suggested it was better to redeem the deposits vs. having curbside collect the bottles and forfeiting the deposits (I can't remember why she said that, but I must have been in Master Recycler overload mode to have forgotten).

So what do you do? Let your hauler collect your bottles curbside and give up the deposit money like I do? Or take them back to the retailer and gleefully collect your "nickels! nickels! nickels" (as Lucy Van Pelt of Peanuts fame does in front of her Doctor's Stand)?


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