Iowa lawmakers may end deposit program for cans and bottles

MAQUOKETA, Iowa -- Iowa lawmakers are considering ending a program that lets people return their empty cans and bottles for five cents.

Since 1978, Iowa shoppers have paid an extra nickel for every can or bottle they buy in the state. Residents get that deposit back when they bring their empty cans to a store or redemption center.

Lawmakers, though, have proposed scrapping the state's 'bottle bill' program and ending the five-cent deposit. Instead, they'd rely on cities' curbside and single-stream recycling.

"There is a lot more litter in the roadsides and ditches than what's just cans and bottles," said Rep. Ross Paustian, R-Walcott. "This is gonna stress more recycling, it's also going to stress litter cleanup."

While grocers support ending the program, the owners and employees at many redemption centers are concerned.

Mary Ann Renner runs Can City redemption centers in Maquoketa, Eldridge, and Tipton, and says if the deposit program ends, she would be forced to close.

"We'd be out of business. There's no more redemption centers," said Renner.

Renner also says the deposit program has been good for the environment.

"It keeps Iowa clean. We have no trash in our ditches," said Renner. "We've got customers who return them for the extra spending money. Some of them, they live off it."

An estimated 86 percent of Iowa's beverage containers are redeemed each year, which is more than three times the recycling rate of states without bottle and can deposits.

Renner has also started a petition to try and save Iowa's bottle bill.

You can find the petition here.