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Oregon’s Bottle Bill Commemorated With New Sculpture In Salem

Chris Lehman

Oregon’s iconic Bottle Bill is being celebrated with a new sculpture in Salem. In 1971, Oregon became the first state in the nation to require a deposit on beverage containers for soda and beer. That landmark legislation is the inspiration for a new nine-foot-tall steel and aluminum sculpture in downtown Salem.

Credit Chris Lehman


A figure that’s vaguely reminiscent of soda bottles and cans hoists a larger-than-life nickel over its head.

“This is a playful piece, but it also has a real message,” said Chris D’Arcy. She chairs the City of Salem’s Public Art Commission.

“This figure really not only reminds people of why we have a bottle bill here, but that Oregon has passed some very progressive legislation over the years. And we were leaders, nationally.”

Since Oregon’s bottle bill took effect, nine other states have also enacted some form of a beverage container deposit. Oregon lawmakers in recent years have expanded the original bottle bill to now include most types of beverages, including juice, water and iced coffee. The original $.05 deposit has also been doubled to ten cents.

The $30,000 sculpture is located in a small park at the southwest corner of Trade and Church Streets in Salem. It’s called “Good Cents,” and was funded through a mix of public and private donations. It was created by Oregon artists Lillian Pitt and Mikkel and Saralyn Hilde. The sculpture will be formally dedicated on December 13 at 12:00 p.m., with a ceremony featuring Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett and a group of Oregon lawmakers.

Credit Chris Lehman

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Copyright 2018 KLCC

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”