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Oregon Could Crack Down On Out-Of-State Bottle Returns

Jes Burns

Could you make a profit by collecting empties outside of Oregon and bringing them back for a ten-cent deposit?

They tried something like that on Seinfeld.  It didn’t work on the show, but some Oregon lawmakers and store managers say out-of-state people routinely drive to Oregon to cash in their cans.

Credit Jes Burns / Earthfix

Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose,  said it's a problem in her district, which lies across the Columbia River from Washington, a state that does not charge a deposit on beverage containers. Johnson said it’s not just a few containers at a time. “These are pick-up trucks with the beds just full of these giant plastic containers full of cans,” she said.

Senate Bill 522 would allow police to fine people up to $250 if they bring in more than 50 empties a day from out of state. The 50-container threshold is meant to keep people who come back with a few containers while on a road trip from getting snared by the law. The bill would require a deliberate "intent to defraud" before a fine would be issued.

The measure passed the Oregon Senate 27-0 in April. It's scheduled for a vote next week in the House Committee on Energy and the Environment.

Copyright 2019 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.”