While one key legislator supports the Iowa grocery stores that have quit accepting bottles and cans from customers seeking their deposits back, another lawmaker says Iowans are furious. State Senator Mary Lundby, a republican from Marion, says Iowans support the bottle bill. “My constituents, except the ones that manage grocery stores, are completely and 100 percent in favor of the grocery stores taking back the product that they sell,” Lundby says. “Almost all of them that I talk to are supportive of expanding the items that we have the deposit on.” Lundby in past years has tried but failed to include more containers in the five-cent deposit law — things like water bottles and glass bottles of ice tea and juices. “I think the public would be supportive, and I think if we start talking about it the public will cause the legislature to change over the next couple of years,” Lundby says. But House Speaker Christopher Rants, who supports the grocery stores on this issue, doubts lawmakers will do anything to change the bottle bill. Again, Lundby believes otherwise. Lundby says the other way to approach the problem is to increase the handling fee for taking back empties two cents rather than the penny it is today, then more redemption centers might open because it would be a more profitable business. She says then the whole grocery store problem would go away. “I’m actually having a bill drafted, and it’ll be very simple,” Lundy says. “It’s just a place to start negotiations on this problem and my bill will say ‘if you sell it, you take it back.'” “That’s probably too strict for lawmakers, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” she says. Lundby is not unsympathetic to the arguments from grocery store owners. Lundby says she understands the problems with bugs and germs, but she says the law stipulates that stores don’t have to take back cans that are dirty. “Why are they taking them in the store?” Lundby asks. “Why don’t they have a free-standing shed that they build and man that shed a specific number of hours a day in order to take back the product that they sell?” And Lundby says grocery stores benefit when customers return with their empties. “I know when I take my bottles or cans back, I almost always buy a newspaper, I buy several Lottery tickets and rarely do I leave the store without buying several other items,” she says.
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