Grocery Industry Survey: Iowans Favor Curbside Recycling over Bottle Deposits

Dec 5, 2017

The Iowa grocery and beverage industries are gearing up again to try to repeal Iowa’s popular bottle deposit law when lawmakers return to the capitol in January.   

They released a survey today they say shows Iowans would prefer better recycling programs.      

The Iowa Grocery Industry Association and the Iowa Beverage Association are offering a bill that’s similar to legislation that advanced through one House committee last year.

"This poll indicates a need to reform Iowa's bottle deposit law." -IGIA Pres. Michelle Hurd

It would get rid of the five cent deposit on beverage containers, eliminate bottle returns to stores, and instead encourage recycling and litter control.     

The beverage industry would pay into a $60 million fund to encourage curbside recycling.

“That would make it more convenient and readily available in places where it is not currently available,” said Iowa Beverage Association President John Otterbeck. 

The industries say their survey shows that 55 percent of Iowans support the proposed bill.    Fifty-two percent say they favor eliminating the practice of taking bottles and cans back to stores, if curbside, on-site, and community recycling centers were widely available.

Other surveys show Iowans overwhelmingly favor the bottle law.  

Last year’s bill was approved by the House Environmental Protection Committee.   It remains in the House Ways and Means Committee where it is eligible for debate.      

"I heard overwhelmingly....do not vote to repeal the bottle law." -Rep. Bobby Kaufmann

“We have been working hard with stakeholders over the past year to continue to improve the bill that was discussed last year,” said Iowa Grocery Industry Association President Michelle Hurd.   “The result of this poll indicates  a need to reform Iowa’s bottle deposit law.”       

One Republican lawmaker said he voted for last year’s bill to repeal the bottle law in order to keep the discussion going, but feedback from his district was fierce. 

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) said he heard from roughly 100 constituents, and only one favored repealing the bottle law.

“I'm open to seeing their survey that says there's support for it,” Kaufmann said.  “But I heard overwhelming, absolutely, do not vote to repeal the bottle bill.”    

Environmental groups favor expanding the law.  But the industries say their poll shows Iowans oppose expanding Iowa’s current deposit from five cents to 10 cents or to cover more containers.       

The poll conducted in early November by the Tarrance Group reached out to 500 Iowa voters.  

Ninety-seven percent were aware of the deposit law.   

“That's really an unimaginably large number," said Tarrance Group vice-president Brian Nienaber.  “I think we had more people say they didn’t know what their age was than didn’t know what this law was.”