Attention drunks! Here is a piece of politics that actually affects your life:


Oregon was the first state to pass a law creating a deposit on bottles and cans which is then returned to consumers who recycle. Forty years later, the Bottle Bill has led to much improved recycling rates and, of course, the familiar jangling of the neighborhood homeless bottle collector.

Politicians have long pointed to the Bottle Bill as a hallmark success of Oregon's pioneering politics, but this year the bill is up for a reboot. Portland Representative Ben Cannon and Salem Republican Vicki Berger are co-sponsoring House Bill 3145, which would expand the redeemable containers to all glass and aluminum beverage containers under 1.5 liters beginning in 2018.

There's a lot of bizarre exceptions to Oregon's bottle bill, as Rep. Cannon noted this morning during the House debate on the bill when he held up two cans of Rockstar: One, a carbonated energy drink, was worth a nickle. The other, a gross-sounding Rockstar coffee concoction, was not carbonated and therefore not redeemable despite coming in almost exactly the same can. All sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee, tea, and juice would be redeemable under the new law.

The bill is opposed by the state grocery political action group, which says it will hurt sales, comparing the deposit to a sales tax. But it sailed through the House this morning in a 47-12 vote.

The bill has been good for the environment: "More bottles are recycled in the 11 bottle bills state than in the other 39 states combined," says Cannon. But recycling rates have dropped in recent years, from 90 percent of redeemable bottles to 75 percent, likely because a nickle is worth way less now than it was when the law went into effect in 1971. If bottle recycling rates stay below 80 percent, the new law would mandate that all bottles and cans would then be worth ten cents rather than five. A dime! We'll be rich!

It'll definitely be good for the earth, but I mostly wonder what the new bill's impact will be on can collectors. Since a lot more bottles and cans will be redeemable, I'd think their incomes would go up a bit.