Black and white photo of Oregon Governor Tom McCall and Mary Roberts celebrating the state bottle bill's tenth anniversary.

Happy 50th Birthday to Oregon's Bottle Bill!

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Happy Birthday!

What is the Bottle Bill?

On July 2, 1971, Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass a Bottle Bill – a system that provides a redemption value to Oregonians who return their used beverage containers, incentivizes recycling, and helps keep Oregon clean and beautiful. It was a groundbreaking approach to addressing the growing problem of litter in our forests, rivers, beaches, and other natural areas. Oregon’s Bottle Bill is an Extended Producer Responsibility system where the beverage industry serves as the operational steward and manages its material streams throughout the lifecycle of its products.

Two logos: on the left is our Oregon Bottle Bill 50th anniversary logo, and on the right is the Oregon Capitol History Gateway logo

The Bottle Bill Then & Now

Over the past 50 years, Oregon’s Bottle Bill has evolved with the times. Originally just applying to beer and soda containers, it now includes a wide range of beverages in many different container types, and the redemption value has increased from 5 cents to 10 cents.

In the early decades, all Bottle Bill container returns were conducted through hand-counts at retail grocery stores, and individual distributors of beverage products were responsible for transporting and processing their materials once they were returned to the stores. Over time, distributors formed local and regional cooperatives to efficiently facilitate their stewardship role within the Bottle Bill. In 2009, those regional cooperatives formed into a single statewide cooperative, the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), paving the way for new access options and innovative programs, including the introduction of BottleDrop Redemption Centers and the option of bulk recycling through the Green Bag program. Today, OBRC handles 98% of container returns in Oregon, and over 75% of those returns are conducted through the BottleDrop network.

OBRC is a private, not-for-profit cooperative working as the industry steward to transport, count, process and recycle nearly two billion containers each year. OBRC uses no public funding to fulfill the mission of the Bottle Bill. This model has solidified Oregon’s reputation as a national leader, with 80-90% of redeemable beverage containers sold in Oregon being returned and recycled each year, and OBRC continues to innovate and expand redemption options while also increasing the ways it benefits Oregon and the people who live here.

Milestones from the Bottle Bill’s First 50 Years

1971 ­

  • Tom McCall signs Oregon’s Bottle Bill, the first in the nation


  • Distributors form regional groups to facilitate Bottle Bill operations and compliance, including Container Recovery Inc. (CRInc), a cooperative that streamlines the redemption program


  • Bottle Bill expanded to include water bottles


  • Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative forms out of CRInc and other regional distributor groups to become the statewide steward of the redemption program


  • OBRC opens first BottleDrop Redemption Center and introduces the Green Bag program to Oregon, offering customers a bulk recycling option


  • The Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA) created BottleDrop Plus in partnership with OBRC, adding 20% more for customers who choose to use their BottleDrop funds to shop at participating retailers


  • BottleDrop Blue Bag fundraising program introduced in Oregon, making it easier for nonprofits to engage their supporters and supercharge their fundraising through bulk container redemption


  • First BottleDrop Express location opens (in Estacada), increasing access to bag programs


  • Redemption value for containers increases from 5 cents to 10 cents


  • Bottle Bill expanded again to include all beverages except wine, liquor, milk and milk substitutes
  • BottleDrop reintroduces reusable bottles in Oregon (now with nearly 1 million in circulation)
  • BottleDrop opens its 25th full-service Redemption Center (in Newport)


  • The Dealer Redemption Center program begins, increasing BottleDrop network bag drop locations
  • Total funds raised by 4,000 nonprofits through OBRC fundraising programs exceeds $12 million
  • Surpassed 500,000 BottleDrop account holders; currently have over 685,000 accounts


  • OBRC invents, develops and deploys new, smart technology, the patented Smart Count AI, which uses advanced image recognition, scanners, cameras and RFID to rapidly and accurately count redeemable containers and credit customer accounts
  • The 75th BottleDrop network bag drop location is added to the system (in Happy Valley)
Filled BottleDrop Green Bags in a Radio Flyer wagon sit in the Oregon capitol

For More Information

If you wish to dig further into the history of Oregon’s Bottle Bill, you can find more information on the Department of Environmental Quality’s website and by listening to this forum led by the Oregon Historical Society to celebrate Earth Day this year.