We love Costco, but when it comes to dealing with returned deposit bottles and cans, they're not much better than the local retailers -- which is to say, terrible. Out at the Costco by the airport, they have a grand total of one machine that takes glass and one that takes plastic. Given the massive quantities of beverage containers going out the door of that warehouse, for them to have that few return processing machines is obscene. There really ought to be a law requiring high-volume sellers to have high-volume deposit return processing capabilities.
At least they keep the area around the infernal machines relatively scum-free, which is more than one can say for Safeway or Fred Meyer. And Costco has enough people running around that you don't have to wait a half hour for a surly teenager to unjam them. If the machines break down too badly, you can usually sweet-talk somebody inside Costco to pay you for your bottles without waiting for the contraptions outside to be fixed. The people behind the desk won't touch the empties, but they'll usually take your word for how many are in your cart.
Anyway, as we stood there the other day, wasting time waiting for our turn to play the absurd game with the machines, we were thinking, should we really be bothered? Why don't we do what so many Portlanders do -- just leave them out with the garbage, and let scavengers take them away? Well, because at our house it comes to $100 a year or more. We're not going to give $100 a year away to street people that we don't even know. We work too hard for that money.
Our latest bottle return encounter, which featured all sorts of mishaps with the machines, reminded us that a revision of Oregon bottle deposit law was passed over the summer, and that we're overdue to have a look at what the changes mean. As it turns out, despite a lot of hoopla, not much will change for quite a while.
Under the new law, all manner of beverage containers that aren't subject to deposit now, will be added to the ordeal. But in all likelihood that won't happen until 2018. And the deposit per container may go up from a nickel to a dime -- but not until 2017 at the earliest, and maybe never.
When politicians tell you what the law is going to be six or seven years from now, you might want to break out a big old grain of salt.
Not much discussed is another feature of the law -- that at some point, you won't be able to bring back more than 24 containers a day to a retailer. That's down considerably from the 144-container limit in place now. So will you be schlepping them around with you every time you go to the store? Supposedly that problem won't arise, because there are going to be mega-redemption centers set up, like two that are currently going in Oregon City and Wood Village. But the new law doesn't require the centers. It merely "encourages" them. Swell.
Is this going to work? Ask the "green" people in the state legislature. Like Jeffer-Sam Smith. This is their crowning achievement.
Bottom line: It's the same old slimy mess, and likely to remain so for a long time. So Costco, in the meantime, do us a favor. How about a few more machines, at least?