Republicans Reject Repeal of Iowa’s Bottle Deposit Law

Mar 20, 2018

A bill to repeal Iowa’s bottle deposit law and replace it with a statewide recycling program failed to clear a Republican-dominated three member panel in the Iowa House today.  

A separate House bill to expand the law by adding more containers is also dead for the year. But the Senate is still considering a total repeal.    

The bill was dead before we came into the room. -Rep. Guy Vander Linden

Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa) called today’s hearing even though he knew the bill to repeal the bottle deposit law did not have the support to advance.      

He said he wanted to get supporters and opponents of Iowa’s bottle deposit law talking to each other instead of “pointing fingers".

“This bill is dead but it was dead before we came in the room because even the proponents thought they had a better idea,” Vander Linden said. “The purpose of the meeting was to get everybody in the room and hopefully clear the air a little bit and come to a better understanding.”

The Iowa Grocery Industry Association and the Iowa Beverage Association are the principle backers of 

Only ten states have redemption laws. -Iowa Grocery Industry Lobbyist Brad Epperly

the bill to repeal the bottle deposit law.

“Only ten states have redemption laws,” said Iowa Grocery Industry Association lobbyist Brad Epperly.

The bill to replace Iowa’s 40-year old bottle deposit law would eliminate the deposit on cans and bottles, expand access to curbside and onsite recycling, and remove can and bottle returns from grocery stores. 

But environmentalists, recyclers and others argued against the repeal.

“The bottle law is part of the culture,” said Mike Delaney with the Izaak Walton League.

“This is a non-starter,” said Kerri Johannsen with the Iowa Environmental Council to describe the bill to repeal the law.

The bottle law is part of the culture. -Mike Delaney, Izaak Walton League

Vander Linden said next year’s discussions could start with a bipartisan bill to expand rather than repeal the bottle deposit law by adding more containers.    

“I think the McKean bill represents the legislators getting together and coming up with something,” Vander Linden said. “So I would expect that to be the starting point.”

The bill by Rep. Andy McKean (R-Anamosa) has both Republican and Democratic sponsors.     

A Senate version of the bill to repeal the bottle deposit law is scheduled for a subcommittee meeting in  the Senate on Wednesday.