Bottle and can redemption machines.

Representatives of the Iowa Beverage Association and the Iowa Grocery Industry released a poll today they say shows a majority of Iowans want to modernize the 40-year-old bottle deposit law.

The two groups have been trying for several years to make changes in the law without success. The poll was conducted by the Tarrance Group, and its vice president, Brian Nienaber talked about the results in a conference call with reporters.

“Sixty-one percent of voters say it’s time to modernize and update the five-cent deposit law. Fully 80 some percent (86) say the best way to encourage recycling is to make curbside, onsite recycling available to everyone,” Nienaber says.

He says they found that 97 percent of the people in the poll were aware of Iowa’s deposit law. “That’s really an unimaginably large number,” Nienaber says, “I think we had more people say they didn’t know what their age was than didn’t know what this law way. So this was an almost universal level of awareness about it. Then when we asked people how often they had taken things back to get the deposit — about 58 percent said they had gone in the last month. Another 15 percent said they had gone in the last three months.”

Nienaber says they asked a series of questions to gauge how people would like to see the law changed. “We had broad, 70 plus agreement that….people are more likely to recycle if we make it easier and more convenient. People are not going to make a major effort to save five cents, 73 percent agreed with that,” Nienaber says. “Updating recycling laws is the right thing to do, 92 percent agreement.”

He says there were several things people did not want to see changed. “Adding the five cent deposit to more kinds of containers which comes in with a majority opposed, 54 percent. Doubling the deposit on carbonated beverages and cans to 10 cents, that’s 63 percent oppose,” according to Nienaber. He says 67 percent opposed using a 10-cent deposit and putting it on all types of containers for carbonated beverages, juice milk and water.

The groups propose a new law that would do away the five-cent deposit on carbonated cans and bottles, create an incentive for the expansion of access and use of curbside recycling and eliminate the need to return bottles and cans to the grocery stores. The proposal creates a fund to help with expansion of recycling.

The president of the Iowa Beverage Association, John Otterbeck, says they are still working out the details, but the industry would put money into the fund. “The beverage industry would instead of paying to the recycler the one-cent handling fee on the containers that they touch — it would be diverted to this fund. And then the state would be in a management situation of those resources,” Otterbeck says. The fund could have up to $60 million. Efforts to change the bottle bill have been going on for a decade or more. Representatives of the IBA and IGA says this latest poll gives them support to push legislators to make changes in the law.

More poll results:Deposit-Law-Poll-PDF