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Bottle return centers change fee for dropped-off bags

Employees count bottles and cans at a bottle return center.
Chris Lehman
File photo of an Oregon Bottle Drop center. In 2023, fees are changing for people who return "green bags" of deposit items.

People who return bags of bottles and cans to Oregon BottleDrop Redemption Centers will be charged differently starting in 2023.

Until now, the green bags that are counted by BottleDrop employees came with a 40-cent flat fee per bag. Now, the centers will charge a fee that’s equal to eight percent of the deposits contained in a bag.

With a ten-cent redemption value per item, it means that bags containing more than 50 deposit items will incur a higher fee than before. BottleDrop says on its website that the bags can hold an average of 67 containers.

"We have heard from many customers who feel a flat fee penalizes those who follow our terms and conditions and limit the weight of their bags, because it applies the same fee to a bag with fewer containers as to a bag with many more containers," said an announcement from BottleDrop. "The flat fee encouraged customers to put as many containers as possible in a bag. This has also led to safety concerns for our employees, who must lift and process overweight and overstuffed bags."

BottleDrop centers are operated by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, an organization of beverage distributors that manages the state's system of bottle deposits and refunds.

There's no fee to return bags at "partner retailers" or to return bottles and cans using self-serve machines.

The bag processing fee is in addition to the 20-cent per bag fee to purchase the empty green bags from BottleDrop. The bag purchase fee is not changing.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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