Grocery stores and other Iowa retailers have long, shall I say, despised the bottle bill, and the COVID-19 pandemic just may be their ticket out, at least partially.

On March 17, Governor Kim Reynolds suspended the provision of the Iowa Code that required dealers to accept empty beverage containers. In her newest proclamation announced yesterday (May 26), the governor extended the suspension through June 25. It's Section One Hundred Twenty-Four in yesterday's proclamation, available HERE. That means for at least another month you'll have to take your cans and bottles to a redemption center or donate them. I did that last weekend at a fundraiser for Dogs Forever.

According to the Gazette, Cleaner Iowa Inc. has filed a petition that's asking the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to say no to a new proposal from the grocery industry. Cleaner Iowa Inc. believes that the new proposal would cause more litter and that the proposal goes around the Iowa legislature. That's important because the legislature has previously said no to changes. This time, the grocery industry is asking the Iowa DNR to rule. Cleaner Iowa Inc. says it isn't with the DNR authority to make such a ruling.

As it stands now if a redemption center is within 10 minutes of a store, that store can choose not to accept bottles/cans. Grocers are also required to have a written agreement in place with a redemption center before they can say 'no' to accepting bottles and cans.

A proposal from grocers would like to extend the distance to 15 miles and throw out the written agreement requirement. Currently, if a redemption center goes under, retailers must start taking containers again. Can Shed owner Troy Willard told the Gazette the new proposal is dangerous territory:

If there’s no paper trail, there’s no way for the DNR to know what’s going on, let alone enforce the law. This change would let retailers shirk their responsibilities and hurt consumers.

There's no word on when the Iowa DNR will make a ruling.

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