Bottle bill expanding to include kombucha, tea, sports drinks and more

By Pete Danko
Beginning on Jan. 1, more beverages sold in the state will be covered under the state's bottle bill.

Coffee and tea, cider, sports drinks, fruit and veggie juices, coconut water and kombucha are among the new beverages in containers between 4 oz. and 1.5 liters that will require a 10-cent deposit and be eligible for redemption.

The expansion is the result of a 2011 amendment to the first-in-the-nation bottle bill that Oregon passed in 1971. It puts the law “in line with the kinds of products that are out there today," Jules Bailey, chief stewardship officer for the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which manages logistics for the bottle bill, said in a news release.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission said the list of covered beverages is so long and varied now that it would be easier to think in terms of what won’t be covered. Come the new year, that dwindling list will include distilled spirits, wine, milk, infant formula and meal replacement beverages. A full list of exceptions is available on the OLCC website.

The expansion comes on the heels of a busy year for recycling in Oregon. In April, the bottle bill deposit and redemption value doubled from a nickel to a dime, in the hopes of turning around a declining redemption rate (64.3 percent in 2016). Then came the news that China, the destination for most of the mixed paper and post-consumer plastics collected in the state, would stop accepting a long list of materials.

That has led state environmental regulators to agree to allow some processors to dispose of recyclable materials that can't find a market. That's not an issue for plastic bottles returned to retailers or Bottle Drop centers, however — they all get recycled at a facility in St. Helens.

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