Wine in cans could soon be included in Oregon’s Bottle Bill recycling program, carrying a 10-cent deposit and refund like other beverages.
Proposed legislation also would make changes to the 50-year-old law to ensure all beverage distributors participate in the program.
The Oregon Bottle Bill, the first of its kind in the nation, requires most beverage containers sold in the state to be returnable with a minimum refund value. Nine other states have since followed with similar laws.
Oregon’s program is overseen by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, a private cooperative owned by retailers and beverage distributors, administers the collection of returned containers.
Senate Bill 847, considered during the 2021 Legislative session, would have created a state-funded task force to modernize the program and make recommendations on including wine in cans and bottles, as well as distilled liquor.
That bill died in committee, but proponents formed a volunteer work group to continue the effort, Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said during a legislative committee meeting earlier this month.
The group quickly determined that liquor bottles would be difficult to incorporate into the program, Dembrow said, because liquor is distributed by the state. That would mean the state would have to become part of the private cooperative.
Wine in bottles, too, posed problems because the state’s container return infrastructure isn’t set up to handle them.
But, Dembrow said, “Wine in cans could be very quickly incorporated into the system."
The wine industry had been supportive of the bill to form the task force, and of looking at cans and bottles separately.
But that changed last year, after the Legislature passed a separate producer responsibility bill for packaging, said Fawn Barrie, executive director of the Oregon Wine Council.
Under the new law, producers will have extended responsibility to support recycling of their packaging. Plans for exactly how that will work are still being developed.
“Our main objection is the timing of it,” Barrie said.
Wine producers, who already have been hit hard by the pandemic, would have to adopt two different, and possibly costly, recycling systems at once, she said.
“Our members want to be responsible in recycling their products,” Barrie said. “I disagree there’s a rational reason we have to do it right now. We should wait until we have more details about this entirely new producer responsibility program.”
Dembrow, however said he still thinks including wine in cans in the Bottle Bill is the best option.
“I think anybody who understands these systems knows the deposit route is really the better route for them and consumers are ready for that,” he said.
The Legislature will consider the proposal during its 2022 short session, which begins Feb. 1.
If the legislation passes, wine in cans will carry a refund value beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
Labels on the cans won’t need to be changed to indicate the refund value until April 1, 2025.
Tracy Loew is a reporter at the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-399-6779 or on Twitter at @Tracy_Loew. Support local journalism by subscribing to the Statesman Journal.
This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Wine in cans could soon be included in Oregon's Bottle Bill