The process for changing Iowa’s bottle and can deposit law is entering the final steps after the Environmental Protection Commission gave its initial approval to the rules.

DNR Land Quality Bureau chief Amie Davidson says the rules now get one more editorial review. “The rules will then be published in the administrative bulletin on November 2nd, and that will start kind of the formal public comment period. At that point, once they’re published, anybody can submit comments on them,” she says.

The comment period will end November 22.”On that date, we will hold a public hearing — the details on that are yet to be determined — so we’ll have that time period in November to gather more public comments. We’ll then review and evaluate those comments, make any revisions that are needed to the rules, and then go back to EPC for approval of the final rules,” Davidson says.

She says they’ve heard from around 65 people during the informal comment period.  “A lot of the comments I think were similar to comments that were received during the legislative changes, as far as expand it to different container types, increase the deposit fee from five cents to ten cents, get rid of the whole thing. So those were the types of comments that we can’t incorporate into the rules, because they don’t go with what the law allows,” Davidson says.

The law allows retailers to opt out of taking back empty cans and bottles and paying the deposit to customers if they are within set distances of a recycling facility. Davidson says the rules should be in place by the first of the year. “They can decide to do that January one or they could in July be like, ‘You know what? We continued to do the redemption activities we don’t want to anymore, the law allows us to opt out, we can opt out.’ So they can kind of decide to do it whenever they want after January one. January one is the time period where the law allows most of the changes to happen,” according to Davidson.

The changes in the 44 year old bottle bill were approved in the last session of the Iowa Legislature and signed into law by Governor Reynolds after years of lawmakers trying to do something with the bill.