BottleDrop Accounts by the Numbers

By Holly Hummel, RA Treasurer

BottleDrop – A whole new thing for Oregon. Here’s my take on Oregon’s BottleDrop system for handling returnable beverage containers:

At BottleDrop centers you can feed containers into a reverse vending machine and cash out your refund on the spot, just the way you used to at the grocery store. But a new and very convenient way to redeem your bottle and can deposits is to drop off a green BottleDrop bag. Here’s how it works:

  1. You need to sign up for an account, but it’s easier than it sounds – you just need an Oregon identification card. For me, it was my driver’s license.
  2. You can sign up for an account at any BottleDrop Redemption Center or at a store kiosk. There are 24 BottleDrop Redemption Centers which are open from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week. You can find the BottleDrop Redemption Center closest to you by clicking on this link.
  3. An easy was to open your account is to visit a BottleDrop kiosk. There are BottleDrop kiosks at all Fred Meyer stores, and you can also find them at Safeway, QFC and Albertsons stores.
  4. When you open your BottleDrop account you will receive a green plastic card with a bar code on it and a small detachable card with the same bar code on it. That bar code identifies your account.
  5. You will then need to purchase 10 large green drawstring bags for $2.00. You can purchase these at the BottleDrop redemption center or at a participating grocery store. The green bags have places identified where you put your label with your bar code on it. You only need one label per bag. The label on the bag is how you get credit for your returnables.
  6. You can get labels at the kiosk or at a BottleDrop Redemption Center. These labels will have your identification bar code on them.
  7. You can get about 55-60 cans in one bag. The bags are actually a pretty handy way to collect your returnables in one place.
  8. Once you have filled up your green bag, you take your Green BottleDrop card and find a beverage container return site. They have doors that look like library book drops. You scan the bar code on your card and the door opens up. You just toss your SECURELY tied bag into the drop box.
  9. The green BottleDrop bag gets picked up by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) within a day of when you return your green bag to a grocery store or redemption center. It gets credited to your account within 5 business days. Once the money is credited to your account, you can either go online to donate that money to a charity (think Recycling Advocates!!) or you can print out and redeem it at a grocery store.
  10. It may seem wrong to have to pay 20 cents to buy a bag to return your deposit bottles and cans, BUT here’s the really cool thing. If you opt to get an in-store credit, you will get a 20% bonus. So, if you put 60 cans in your bag, that’s $6.00 + your 20% bonus which gets you an additional $1.20 for your troubles, so you net an extra dollar. Check out details here: BottleDrop Plus
  11. You might ask why the whole process needs to be this complicated. This process frees up the retailers from having to collect and sort returnables. It also provides a clean stream of returnables that are ready to be recycled. If you look through many recycling bins in the City of Portland, you will find garbage and debris mixed in with the recycling. This contamination results in the recycling going to the landfill and is ultimately what led China into refusing our recycling. The BottleDrop system keeps these valuable cans and bottles organized and keeps this part of the recycling stream clean. Having this clean stream of returnables keeps these items out of the landfill and ensures that they will be recycled.

I have to admit that I was resistant to changing my ways and had a bad attitude about this whole BottleDrop business, but now that I have taken the time to open my account, I cannot imagine dealing with my returnables any other way. I salute OBRC for taking the process to the next level.

Please give me a call at 503-516-8962 if you want to donate your BottleDrop proceeds to Recycling Advocates and I will walk you through it!  It takes money to keep this newsletter arriving in your mailbox and for us to keep doing good work, including pursuing our Bring Your Own Cup campaign, and we need your support!  There are so many needs out there, but this is an easy way to support the organization that is promoting sustainability on a local grassroots level, here in Oregon. This is an easy way to do it. Thanks for reading!

– Holly