Governor Chet Culver is moving ahead with a compromise proposal on his plan to expand the state’s bottle deposit law. Culver originally proposed raising the deposit from a nickel to a dime and only giving consumers back seven cents, with the remainder of the money going to redemption centers and environmental programs.
Culver issued new goals for the program Thursday saying he wants to let customers keep the full ten cents, expand the number of drink containers that’re subject to the deposit, and find a way to give one cent to redemption centers and one cent to the state Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program.
Culver hinted at the changes in a interview just a couple of weeks ago. "Iowans that I’ve talk to support expanding the bottle bill and including bottles and cans that are, like water bottles, that aren’t covered," Culver says. "…They want to get bottles and cans out of ditches and out of landfills and so they share that goal." Grocers are balking at the idea of accepting more bottle returns for deposit and key legislators have suggested doubling the deposit fee is a "tough" sell.
Culver says he’s ready to work with legislators on the mechanics of getting more bottles and cans into the recycling stream by charging a deposit fee that Iowans will return those containers to redeem. "You know, whatever we have to do to expand the bottle bill — after 30 years, we’ve never added any container to the law so we have 330 million containers annually in Iowa…that aren’t covered," Culver says. "People drink a lot of water, consume a lot of juice and so I’m saying let’s do what’s easy. Let’s expand it." But part of the reason Culver recommended doubling the deposit fee was to generate more money for redemption centers, and to find a new source of money for the state’s premiere environmental program.
"In terms of the redemption center and the recyclers and the grocers, let’s work with them on what makes the most sense," Culver says. "…It’s a proposal. It’s an idea. I have a few of those, but I need the legislature and the people of Iowa to get behind them if we want to get it done and I expect we will, ultimately, accomplish this worthy goal." According to Culver, he’s willing to accept "whatever it takes" to get this issue resolved as soon as possible.
Culver estimated that raising the deposit fee would produce enough money to plug about 20-million dollars into the state’s REAP budget. That is more than has ever been spent on the program in a single year. Last year, lawmakers and the governor set aside 15-million for it.