Dermot Hayes, distinguished professor, was interviewed about his 2018 research on container recycling for a Dec. 6 Des Moines Register story, "Kick the can: Iowa's bottle bill was falling apart — and then the pandemic made things worse."
Hayes said one of the biggest problems with the law is that the deposit and handling fees were never indexed for inflation. If they were, the nickel deposit on alcohol and soft drink containers would be 17 cents now, and the handling fee, instead of a penny, would be 3 cents.
He found that as the state’s recycling rate has dropped over the years from as high as 93% to around 71%, distributors have received a windfall from the unredeemed deposits.
In 2017, consumers collected an estimated $57 million from returned containers, but they lost $35.1 million on containers that were not recycled. Using an identical analysis from 2012, Hayes estimated the amount distributors kept increased by $13.9 million per year from 2012 to 2017.
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