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More bottles, cans now have a refund value

The list of beverage containers having a 10 cent refund value is increasing, and that is a good thing for three local non-profits which use the refund money for community activities.

We pay deposits when we purchase beer, pop and water in bottles and cans and we get those deposits refunded when we return the containers to a place that sells them. Many of us choose a different path — we donate those containers to local non-profit groups. It’s often easier to do that and those donations are important source of revenue for the groups.

However, it has always been confusing for both those donating containers and the volunteers who collect and sort the containers. That is because beer, pop and water bottles and cans have had a refund value, but many similar drinks have not. It’s all changing Jan. 1.

Bottles and cans of coffees, teas, kombucha, energy and sport drinks, hard cider, juice and protein drinks will have a 10 cent refund value too. So now, everything but wine and milk products is included in the deposit/refund system. It will be much easier to know which containers should be returned to stores for refunds or donated to the non-profit groups. And it becomes much easier for the groups to ensure that only containers with a refund value are accepted from the public and passed on to processors.

Having a refund value on more containers is also good for recycling. Bottles and cans with a refund value are recycled at a much higher rate than those that don’t. Meanwhile, the mixed recycling system is now stressed because of too much contamination, and it’s possible that some loads of recycled materials will be disposed of. This is not the case for the containers with a refund value returned to stores or donated to non-profit groups. When not mixed with other recycled materials, these glass, aluminum and plastic containers are in demand for raw materials for making new products. That is how recycling is supposed to work.

Since 2009, the Hood River Leos youth service group has been collecting bottles and cans on the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rosauers parking lot. In nine years, they have collected about 1.2 million containers. The Leos pass all the refund money to other local groups and activities.

The Hood River Lions Club has been collecting bottles and cans for about 18 months in the yellow trailers located in the parking lots of Hood River Supply on the Heights and Columbia Bank on West Cascade. So far, Lions Club volunteers have sorted about 275,000 containers and are distributing the refund money back to the community.

The Mt. Hood Town Hall, located along Highway 35 in the upper Hood River Valley, has a donation bin for bottles and cans. Volunteers have been restoring the 103-year-old building for many years and now operate it as a community center. Upper Valley residents have donated nearly 200,000 containers at the Town Hall in the last 18 months and all of the refund money is going to the building’s restoration.

After Jan. 1, almost all beverage containers will have a refund value. Hopefully, this means more containers will be donated and more community activities will benefit.

The list of beverage containers having a 10 cent refund value is increasing, and that is a good thing for three local non-profits which use the refund money for community activities.

Bob Danko, Parkdale, is the father of two Hood River Valley High School grads, was there with the Leos on its first collection day in 2009 and has been helping the non- profit groups collect bottles and cans since then.

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