- The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), which runs the state container deposit system, will be launching a pilot program to collect glass bottles for refilling by breweries, as reported by Resource Recycling.
- The pilot phase is expected to start within two years and will focus on larger bottles. Once OBRC expands the number of "BottleDrop" redemption centers throughout the state it could collect more than two million bottles per year.
- Because OBRC already has a $34 million budget and 275 employees to operate the state's deposit program, it is in a strong position to launch a pilot on this scale.
The state's redemption rate will be increased to 10 cents starting in April as part of an effort to improve return rates. OBRC already has existing relationships with the state's many breweries so the potential for higher collection volumes gives this pilot an even better chance of success. While many breweries already allow customers to bring in large growlers for refilling, this option isn't widely available for bottles of any type.
Getting back to the model of refillable bottles, which used to be commonplace for beer and soda manufacturers, could help recyclers that have been struggling to deal with mixed glass. The demand for glass among manufacturers remains high in many states, but the ongoing shift to single-stream has led to decreased quality and mixed colors that can be less valuable. Some companies, such as Alpine Recycling in Colorado, have invested in more advanced sorting equipment to address these issues. Last year, a long list of companies from the beverage and waste industries also formed the U.S. Glass Recycling Coalition and have since been working with states to develop solutions.
In the meantime, a number of local governments have stopped collecting the material until regional economics improve. The latest additions to that list include New Orleans and Knoxville.