History of Oregon’s Bottle Bill

Clifftop view of the ocean from Ecola Point, Oregon at sunset.
In 1971, the Oregon Legislature passed the nation’s first deposit-return system to prevent litter caused by single-use beverage containers. Visionary from the start, Oregon’s Bottle Bill remains one of the state’s strongest environmental legacies.

Rooted in experience and always evolving

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Oregon lawmakers blazed new trails with forward-thinking policies like public access to Oregon’s beaches, purposeful land development and innovations to the state’s transportation system. But the crowning policy achievement of the era remains Oregon’s iconic Bottle Bill, which continues to inspire positive change across America.


Citizen advocate Richard Chambers reaches out to State Representative Paul Hanneman, encouraging him to sponsor legislation to help reduce litter by creating a deposit-return system for single-use beverage containers. Hanneman introduces a bill during the 1969 legislative session, but it is ultimately defeated.


Oregon Governor Tom McCall, who had opposed Hanneman’s Bottle Bill during the 1969 legislative session, changes his position and signals his support for a Bottle Bill by stating his ambition to “. . . put a price on the head of every beer can and pop bottle in the United States.”


Oregon’s Bottle Bill goes into effect on October 1 and includes a 5-cent refund value for empty beer and soda containers. Consumers can return containers to retail stores, and individual beverage distributors are charged with facilitating the flow of deposits and refunds as well as collecting their empty containers from the retailers they service. Vermont follows Oregon’s lead and adopts a Bottle Bill.

1976 – 1986

A number of states adopt Bottle Bills, including Maine and Michigan (1976), Connecticut and Iowa (1978), Massachusetts (1981), New York (1982) and California (1986).

1987 – 2000

Additional regional beverage distributor partnerships and cooperatives form across Oregon, allowing for more streamlined facilitation of Bottle Bill operations and stewardship in regional markets.


Hawaii adopts a bottle bill.


The Oregon Legislature approves SB 1508, allowing for the formal formation of a distributor cooperative. OBRC opens the South Salem BottleDrop Redemption Center.


OBRC opens BottleDrop Redemption Centers in Eugene, Medford, Portland (Delta Park) and Redmond.


OBRC opens BottleDrop Redemption Centers in Forest Grove, Grants Pass, Hermiston and Milwaukie.

Oregon’s Bottle Bill Today

The oldest, yet most modern, system in the United States

What’s Special About the “Oregon Model”

Industry stewardship results in a popular system with strong recycling outcomes