As a note, this is a complicated bill that is still being worked on. We don’t know yet what it will look like; it’s a work in progress. Your input on this ongoing project is valuable and important.
Please do not say that you are “opposed to the bottle bill,” unless you want it to go away completely. The current bill is complicated and is still being worked on. If you say you are opposed to it, many will take that to mean you are opposed to some of the good proposals for revision.
Do talk about what you are in favor of. In your informed opinion, what should the bill look like? Here are some things you might want to talk about (based in part on comments I have received from constituents):
Iowans want an updated bottle bill that is fair for all Iowans. We should think about consumer needs and the environment, as well as business interests. With the right system, grocery stores and redemption centers can profit, while we also encourage more redemption, reduce waste, and make Iowa more beautiful.
First and foremost, we should double the handling fee to 2 cents. Even better would be 3 cents. This is the amount that goes directly to fund redemption. This will make the whole program more feasible by encouraging more redemption centers to open. This handling fee should be borne by those who profit from the sale of these beverages: the beverage manufacturers (e.g., beer and soft drink distributors) and those who sell them (grocery stores and other stores).
Grocery stores profit by selling these containers, so should have some responsibility to make this system work. Grocery stores should either provide an option to redeem containers at their stores, or they should be able to opt out only by contracting with redemption centers nearby. 10 to 15 miles is too far for people to drive to redeem cans and bottles.
We should expand redeemable containers to include water, tea, sports drinks, and juice containers that use the same materials as currently redeemable containers.
We need penalties for stores who do not comply with the rules. Some enforcement penalties are being proposed in the current bill, and that is good.
Increase the deposit fee. It is currently 5 cents per container, and this has not been increased in a long time. Increasing the deposit fee up to 10 cents per container would increase the consumer incentives to redeem the containers and would benefit many low-income people who collect and redeem the containers. We could also tie increases in the handling fee and deposit fee to the cost of living to assure an automatic adjustment over time in order to provide ongoing revenue.
Move the administration of the container deposit law to a department suited to collect monies automatically and transparently (for example, Department of Revenue) and create procedures to track unclaimed deposits and enforce and collect fines.
Dedicate the income from unclaimed deposits and penalties to funding grants to modernize redemption systems and equipment, open new redemption centers in underserved areas, and assist with other environmental projects and protection.