Charles Kocher, Pilot staff writer


Oregon's 1971 bottle bill has been changed, as of Jan. 1, to include water and flavored water bottles on the list of containers that can be redeemed for a nickel deposit.

The flip side is that consumers will pay an extra 5 cents per bottle at the time of purchase. But that's a price worth paying to keep more plastic out of landfills.

For more than a decade, bottled water has filled many a car cupholder and refrigerator shelf andndash; becoming as ubiquitous in today's society as cell phones and iPods.

The Beverage Marketing Corp. reports that in 2007, Americans purchased 8.8 billion gallons of bottled water, a 6.9 percent advance over 2006 (figures for 2008 were not yet available). At 29 gallons per person, U.S. residents drank more bottled water each year than any other beverage except carbonated soft drinks.

But what happens to the bottles containing that 8.8 billion gallons of water? Until now, Oregonians could recycling them without compensation or thrown them in the trash.

Some state recycling officials predict the revised law will reduce the tide of empties going into landfills, and that four out of five bottles will be recycled.

Possible? You bet.

When the state's bottle bill premiered 38 years ago, about 40 percent of beer and soda cans and bottles littered our highways, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which enforces the bottle bill. That number has since plummeted to 6 percent, the agency reported.

Oregonians, it's time to do it again. This state was the first in the U.S. to enact a bottle bill and we can continue our earth-friendly legacy by recycling those water bottles.