An effort to repeal Iowa’s nearly 40-year old bottle deposit law this year has apparently come to an end after action in the Iowa Senate.
A bill backed by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association and the Iowa Beverage Association to replace the bottle law with a statewide recycling program did not clear a three-member panel.
The bill’s manager, Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), announced an alternative effort to modernize the law instead.
“We are not repealing the bottle bill,” Feenstra said.
Feenstra said he will be working on an amendment to keep the bottle law, but move redemption centers entirely outside of grocery stores and convenience stores.
“I think it’s time to figure out a way that the redemption areas can be moved outside retail establishments,” Feenstra said. “That's what we're working on today and we will move forward with some type of amendment that will do that.”
The other Republican on a three-member subcommittee agreed.
“I support the program but not the trash in stores,” said Sen. Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs).
Advocates for and against the bottle deposit law weighed in.
“We've been working on this for a couple of years now trying to bring our recycling up to best practice, and to get them out of the grocery stores,” said lobbyist Bill Wimmer. “We think that eliminating the deposit is the most convenient way to do it.”
“We're worried about reduction in recycling if things are not convenient,” said Sierra Club spokeswoman Pam Mackey-Taylor.
Feenstra described a major lobbying push by supporters of Iowa’s bottle deposit law who sent thousands of green postcards to lawmakers urging them not to repeal the law.
“We had a tremendous amount of postcards sent to us from the recyclers and retailers to not get rid of the bottle bill,” Feenstra said. “My postcards are about a foot in height so it’s been a very active off-season for this topic.”
The manager of a bill in the House to repeal the bottle law also announced this week the bill will not advance.