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Doubling of deposit, expansion of beverage types, help state reclaim 2 billion beverage containers in 2018

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO  - Bottles waited to be recycled at one of the Portland-area Bottle Drop redemption centers. Oregon's bottle deposit system is recycling more containers than ever before despite major disruptions in global recycling markets.

Last year, Oregon recycled 90 percent of the beverage containers covered by its bottle deposit system. The rate jumped from 64 percent just two years ago, and the total number of bottles recycled reached an all-time high of 2 billion in 2018.

"That's a really interesting thing given how much change is happening in recycling markets right now," said Joel Schoening with the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which runs the state's bottle deposit system.

Schoening said the program isn't suffering from the same problems as curbside recycling.

"Because we deal only in glass, plastic and aluminum, with very few exceptions we have a very clean recycling product," he said, "which makes it easier to sell and recycle domestically."

The new numbers reflect the recent expansion of the program to include more types of beverage containers, including energy and sports drinks, tea, coffee and kombucha, as well as a doubling of the deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents.

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