Oregon Could Crack Down On Out-Of-State Bottle Returns

May 7, 2019

Could you make a profit by collecting empties outside of Oregon and bringing them back for a ten-cent deposit?

They tried something like that on Seinfeld.  It didn’t work on the show, but some Oregon lawmakers and store managers say out-of-state people routinely drive to Oregon to cash in their cans.

Credit Jes Burns / Earthfix

Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose,  said it's a problem in her district, which lies across the Columbia River from Washington, a state that does not charge a deposit on beverage containers. Johnson said it’s not just a few containers at a time. “These are pick-up trucks with the beds just full of these giant plastic containers full of cans,” she said.

Senate Bill 522 would allow police to fine people up to $250 if they bring in more than 50 empties a day from out of state. The 50-container threshold is meant to keep people who come back with a few containers while on a road trip from getting snared by the law. The bill would require a deliberate "intent to defraud" before a fine would be issued.

The measure passed the Oregon Senate 27-0 in April. It's scheduled for a vote next week in the House Committee on Energy and the Environment.