OBRC is the industry steward of Oregon’s nationally recognized beverage container redemption program. We help keep Oregon beautiful by providing outstanding services to our partner distributors, retailers and to the public for the recovery, reuse and recycling of beverage containers.
Efficiency Through Cooperation
Oregon’s Bottle Bill is a “producer responsibility” system. That means beverage distributors in the state are collectively responsible for running the operations of the program, managing the flow of deposits and refunds, collecting empty beverage containers from retail partners and consumers (through the BottleDrop network) and ensuring that materials are processed for high quality domestic recycling – all at no expense to taxpayers. Beverage distributors don’t just contribute funding for the program, they also run it and are responsible for making sure it is convenient and relevant for Oregonians.
To help carry out this stewardship role efficiently, beverage distributors joined together and formed the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) in 2009, through a merger of previous regional cooperative organizations across the state, consolidating more than 40 years of container redemption experience within the co-op. OBRC serves as a not-for-profit statewide operator with full vertical integration, making the co-op a major employer and providing 500 clean economy jobs in Oregon.
A large, statewide trucking fleet
Through our statewide Route Operations, OBRC collects containers from more than 2,000 retail stores in Oregon and picks up Green and Blue Bags daily from 74 bag drop locations. With a team of 71 employees and a fleet of more than 60 trucks and 250 trailers, OBRC’s Route Operations division is a large enterprise providing efficient, reliable services for our retail partners and BottleDrop account holders across Oregon.
Geographically dispersed processing facilities
The 2 billion beverage containers returned through OBRC each year must be counted, sorted and compacted before they are sent along for Grade-A, domestic recycling. This requires processing facilities that are located in key geographic areas across the state, able to manage heavy volumes and ensure high-quality outcomes through efficient and accurate mechanized material sortation, which is depicted in Journey of a Green Bag. OBRC’s major processing facilities are located in Clackamas, Eugene, North Bend/Coos Bay, Pendleton, Redmond and White City.
The BottleDrop network
Prior to the creation of OBRC, 100% of containers returned in Oregon were redeemed by consumers at retail stores. In just a dozen years, that number has changed dramatically, with around 80% of container returns now coming through the BottleDrop network and 20% of returns occurring at retail stores. OBRC still partners with retailers to make reverse vending machines available to assist with counting and compacting containers on-site. In addition to retail returns, the creation of OBRC made a number of new services possible, including the BottleDrop network, which has greatly improved consumer convenience and access.
OBRC operates a growing network of 27 full-service BottleDrop Redemption Centers across Oregon, which serve as the primary container return location for consumers in those areas, on behalf of retailers located within a close geographic proximity of the facilities. Customers at BottleDrop Redemption Centers can return containers through self-serve machines, or have staff hand count their containers and receive cash refunds immediately. Many customers can also choose to drop off Green Bags (or Blue Bags for nonprofit fundraisers), which are machine-counted and credited into the customers’ BottleDrop accounts within seven days (and often much faster). All BottleDrop Redemption Centers use automation and technology to sort and compact containers on-site, increasing operational efficiency.
In addition to Green and Blue Bag drop facilities located at BottleDrop Redemption Centers, OBRC also partners with retailers to locate bag drop facilities at grocery stores across Oregon. These convenient bag drop-off locations make it easier than ever for BottleDrop account holders to return bags. Bags are picked up by OBRC’s Route Operations drivers and taken to an OBRC processing facility, where the containers are counted, credited to the customers’ accounts, sorted and processed for recycling.
The BottleDrop network’s convenient consumer access has brought an era of rapid growth in recent years. OBRC regularly opens new bag drop-off locations across Oregon, and the volume of bags returned (11.4 million in 2022) has more than doubled in just the past two years.
Getting Oregonians their refund value
At a dime per container, the value of refunds adds up fast. This requires speedy reimbursements for retailers and payments directly to consumers and nonprofits. Because Oregon’s Bottle Bill is a “producer responsibility” system, OBRC manages the flow of deposits and container refunds on behalf of its distributor members, paying out over $205 million to consumers in 2022 alone.
BottleDrop account holders can conveniently access their accounts online, through a mobile app, or through physical BottleDrop kiosks located at Redemption Centers and retail stores. Customers can use the app to transfer funds to Venmo, PayPal, or a bank account, withdraw their BottleDrop funds for cash, use them to shop with store credit (with an extra 20% added at participating retailers through the BottleDrop Plus program), donate them to any of the thousands of nonprofits participating in the BottleDrop Give Blue Bag program or save them for college by linking their BottleDrop accounts with an Oregon College Savings Plan account.
Producer responsibility, consumer popularity
No similar system in America has consumers and the beverage industry working so closely together to achieve outstanding results, and Oregon’s Bottle Bill is popular with consumers. In a 2022 statewide survey conducted by DHM Research, 94% of respondents were familiar with Oregon’s system, and 97% of those familiar with it reported that it continues to be “good for Oregon.” OBRC is proud to serve as the industry steward of Oregon’s Bottle Bill on behalf of our distributor members, ensuring Oregon’s beverage container redemption program continues to produce positive results for Oregonians and inspiring positive change beyond our borders.