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My bottle return story

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Lahey, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. JrGtr

    JrGtr Disciple (376) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    We had one nearby for a good chunk of time, but he closed up maybe 5 - 7 years ago. Bascially it came down to economics, he was getting paid a fraction of a cent for each bottle and can that came through, and when it came to costs of the shop, (rent, insurance, etc) he was losing money at the end, even though he was taking in massive amounts of bottles / cans. Part probably came to people would bring in ones that didn't have a deposit paid, so he lost on that, as well as people exaggerating the numbers they had - he took you on your word, but he couldn't afford a counter / verifier.
    timmy2b likes this.
  2. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (171) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    The ease of return is generally not the issue with most people I don't think. Bottle returns are 5 cents where I live. If the only way to recycle bottles/cans was at a bottle return shop then I'd likely go to one but since I can just put them with the rest of my trash/recycling a lousy $1.20 for a case of returns really isn't much of a motivator. When I bought cases of Sam Adams in college many years ago we paid about $20 per case so $1.20 wasn't too bad. Now I might pay $24-30 for a 6 pack of beer or even $15-20 for one bottle. Even that old Sam Adams case is probably in the $36 or so ballpark now. So realistically most people really aren't motivated by that amount of money when they are spending a lot more proportionally on beer in the first place. There's a bin at my trash/recycling center to donate the empties to the Boy Scouts, that's where I put mine.
    Junior, LeRose, DBosco and 1 other person like this.
  3. timmy2b

    timmy2b Crusader (788) Jan 24, 2007 New York

    @matthewp @JrGtr I have a couple older plastic totes which I lost the tops to and that is where my cans go. I also drink a lot of seltzer water cans and those are also worth a nickle. Bottles go right back into a case and sit at the base of the stairs in the basement. Its just me and the wife so this takes up no space and we barley use our basement. I like the returning right before we go have friends over to clean up and use the extra cash for snacks or beers for the night.
    Junior, rgordon and matthewp like this.
  4. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (498) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Man the more I read this thread the more I think you all need to hassle your state to get on the CA program. The state takes a 5 cent deposit at purchase, then independent recyclers pay a market rate for the empties. This means that bottles don't currently pay you back your deposit but cans are sometimes paying more. These guys also usually take scrap and other random things like appliances and mattresses. It's by weight so broken bottles and crushed cans are fine, prices are probably better in bigger markets and it never matters where the beverage was purchased
    cavedave likes this.
  5. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (171) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    I put our cans in an old laundry basket in the garage. Probably more important than the money is the time. We've got two teenage kids and live kind of in the boonies. Local stuff is 15 minutes away but most places we have to drive are more like 30 minutes. When we lived in closer to the city and didn't have kids redeeming recycles was more of a thing. There's a place I could go about 10 minutes away that I could recycle but that say half hour to redeem the recycles just isn't worth the money I'd get back. With the kids we also have less room so I'd have to redeem the recycles every week. So basically for me ease of return isn't the issue, its the value of time vs deposit value.
    DBosco likes this.
  6. DBosco

    DBosco Devotee (464) May 1, 2011 Massachusetts

    There were only three recycling centers in the northern part of the metro Boston area that I had ever used. Two of them closed recently because the dilapidated cheap real estate they were on got redeveloped, and I think the other one just decided it was no longer economical for whatever the Massachusetts program is for independent recycling centers, with a 5¢ deposit.
    JrGtr likes this.
  7. Spikester

    Spikester Poo-Bah (2,004) Jul 14, 2007 Oregon

    I take my empties to a local grocery store that takes bottles and cans and uses the bottle and can deposits and donates the proceeds to our local schools. That means I am drinking for the kids!
    Junior, stevepat, LeRose and 3 others like this.
  8. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,514) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Regarding film recycling you are correct AFAIK (my info is kinda old at this point) about all your points. Funny thing about single use plastic bags and all other recyclable film is it compacts to almost nothing. Back in the day (local law changed and we can't do it now) we had a baler for cardboard on site at the recycle center and decided to take what we thought was a crazy amount of film going through the facility, bale it, and sell it directly from our site. Big mistake, it took almost a week to get enough and make a bale, and meanwhile the baler was tied up the whole time.
  9. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (498) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Have you seen the things that press the various thin plastics into bricks? i think it's a mix of controlled heat and pressure and they can make all kinds of thin plastics into bricks they use to build retaining walls and public benches and stuff. Bottles seem like they either need to go back to refillables or many areas they will become inefficient to recycle but it's hard to imagine that cans can't be a valuable resource. I've seen videos of folks using home made backyard forges to turn a whole bunch of cans into nearly pure aluminum ingots
    cavedave likes this.
  10. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (894) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Our recycling here is remarkable. It does seem that some have the rules in front of them and still foul up. Nevertheless, we are relentless and do provide the best service in the state. Composting on a small scale by many works wonders. Harvest the sun and wind near and off of our coast and not the gas and oil!!
    cavedave likes this.
  11. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (894) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I have found the seltzer habit is plain good for many reasons. The Vintage Lime has been good for decades, but the grapefruit one from Aldi is cheap and tasty.
    cavedave likes this.
  12. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,514) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Yeah, exciting ideas I've read about for years. The one that struck me the most was the bridge built out of plastic film said to be stronger than a steel bridge. If we can just make it through this period of time without killing ourselves there are inventions set to guarantee a cleaner and safer future that just require time, investment, and change of public attitudes to gain acceptance.

    IMO, in under a hundred years almost all our refuse will be treated with plasma technology solutions, or a better, cheaper way of doing the same thing, which is sure to be a commercial success when it can provide an adequate material stream to industry. The irony to me, and I wrote a song about it, is that our landfills in future likely will be mines for raw material to feed these machines. I imagine a future where all our beer cans, bottles, or whatever containers they come in eventually, will be recycled to base elements at local sites.
  13. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (498) Mar 12, 2013 California

    this times 1000. When dealing with stuff like plastic and refined metals all the issues with recycling seem to be merely logistical. i.e. the logistics for mining/refining are in place, the logistics for recollecting/refining are not and that's the source of inefficiencies and high cost. All else equal, it's plainly obvious that it's cheaper to turn a ton of beer cans back into pure aluminum than it is to turn a ton of aluminum ore into aluminum.

    Unfortunately there is also capital inertia, the mining/refining industry has millions (billions?) invested in that infrastructure, as does oil/gas, and that acts as a massive incentive to keep those industries rolling along. Anyone have any luck selling that abandoned off shore oil platform on craigslist?
    chrismattlin and cavedave like this.
  14. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Zealot (567) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    At some point it's going to be too expensive to send all these goods off to be recycled and that is probably when we will start to see drastic change to consumer behavior- when people are impacted by larger municipal waste tax bills.
    cavedave likes this.
  15. stevepat

    stevepat Devotee (498) Mar 12, 2013 California

    This is where I think the innovation that @cavedave is talking about will get brought to the fore. There will be a revenue stream to be generated by collecting waste, that waste will be filled with other viable revenue streams, and the people who recognize that confluence and have the foresight/resources to invest in the infrastructure necessary to extract that second revenue source from the waste will be poised to make a good business, and even an industry, for themselves
    cavedave likes this.
  16. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (595) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Recycling glass makes almost no sense unless the bottle factory is very close. To reuse glass (called cullet) it needs to be sorted by color. While recycling undoubtably helps with the litter problem (more of a social problem than anything IMO) the basic ingredients of glass are dirt cheap and readily abundant, most of the cost of glass is energy and transportation. IMO glass should be reused near the end user as clean fill, asphalt or concrete material or even deposited in a crushed state offshore. Glass is inert and does not cause pollution.
    Ranbot, jasonmason and cavedave like this.
  17. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (595) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    I haven't seen anyone post about the "bottle drop" method we now use here in Oregon: First you go to the Bottle Drop store and create an account, you are given a key ring tag and a card that have bar codes on them. Then you "purchase" a roll of bags and stickers, you get ten bags and stickers, the cost is $2 which is deducted from your account. After that you simply fill the bag up with mixed cans and bottles that you paid a deposit on (10c each), attach the sticker to the bag and drop it off at the outside receiving door. They count the bottles and credit your account which can be used at participating stores that have a bottle drop machine (like an ATM) for store credit or you can get the cash value at the Bottle Drop store. Some stores like Freddy Myers sweeten the deal by increasing your account value by 20% easily covering the cost of the bags and stickers. So far I've used it for ten bags worth and it works fine.
  18. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,514) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Indeed. Eventually garbage will be too expensive to haul to an ever shrinking inventory of landfills, and non renewable resources will be too expensive to find, mine, refine, transport, and bring to market to compete with new technologies that will be getting less expensive during that period of time
    stevepat likes this.
  19. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (562) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    The Principality of Sealand was successful at "recycling" [in a very broad sense] an off-shore WWII radio platform. :grin:
    chrismattlin and stevepat like this.
  20. VoxRationis

    VoxRationis Meyvn (1,380) Dec 11, 2016 New York
    Society Trader

    I have a bottle return story. I was traveling, I only had a couple of bottles, and I chanced upon a local supermarket that had coin return bottle machines. When I entered the return area, a women who had obviously had two carts full of bottles, cans, and plastic was there ahead of me and when she saw I had bottles, quickly finished with cans she had been working on and started returning bottles.

    Truth is, it was at the end of a very pleasant and relaxing vacation and I was in a very good mood, so I didn't take it personally and just waited patiently until she was done. She really didn't have the hang of the machine, because every bottle had to go in two or three times and all the while she talking to herself with expressions of surprise.

    While this was going on, a store employee comes out to empty the machines. He sees her working on the bottle machine, so he opens the bottom of the plastic machine. The bag is very full, so he tries to heft it up, out and over his shoulder. Unbeknowst to him, the bag is a bit shredded along the side and absolutely full of water (from all the partly full water bottles, I suspect). So by doing this maneuver, he manages to unload most of the water contents of the bag onto the woman at the bottle return.

    I really had to control myself to keep a straight face. She goes ballistic, yelling at the guy (he was basically just a young kid), who wisely retreated back into the store, throwing apologies behind him. Then she starts grousing out load to no one in particular about how she's has a two hour drive and these are the only clothes she had, blah blah blah.

    My favorite part was when she turned to me looking for sympathy. Without a word, I looked at my two bottles, then at her cart, and finished by throwing her a look as if to say, "Are you kidding?" She stopped talking at that point and went back to returning bottles. Later realizing that had she done the decent thing and let me return my bottles first, I would have been drenched, I could only conclude it was proof that the deity has an incredibly clever fun of humor.
  21. Miles_in_beer_city

    Miles_in_beer_city Initiate (157) Jun 18, 2014 North Carolina

    I see the deposit info on cans and bottles, but had no idea, it could be such a hassle beyond just taking them back, like scanning barcodes :grimacing:, nonsense like "you didn't buy it here, you can't return it here" etc.

    Here the city provides 90 gallon blue wheeled trash cans for recycling, and we put all recyclables (glass, cans, both aluminum and steel, cardboard, newsprint, paper, plastics, etc.) in the can and take it to the street every other week for pickup.
  22. Miles_in_beer_city

    Miles_in_beer_city Initiate (157) Jun 18, 2014 North Carolina

    In states with deposits, does a retailer that sells products in containers with deposits, also have to redeem them?
  23. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,319) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    In Michigan they do, but there may be exceptions for small places. I never see anyone bring bottles back to c-stores at gas stations, thus maybe they are excluded. Just a guess.
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,415) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Me and my grade school buddies were having trouble with that back in the 1950s when the guy who ran the little corner grocery was constantly accusing us bringing him bottles of pop brands he didn't sell to get the 2¢ deposit.

    "WTF, Buffie, we're just gonna turn around and spend it on candy, comic books and baseball cards. Plus, the nearest other store is 2 miles away!"
    cavedave and PapaGoose03 like this.
  25. NickTheGreat

    NickTheGreat Devotee (472) Oct 28, 2010 Iowa

    In Iowa they do. I've looked it up and called out the Bottle & Can Manager at my local store for not accepting cans he sold me. He told me to just take them inside to Customer Service. Nothing like making the lady who handles postage stamps and dry-cleaning deal with 500 beer cans.

    I've seen people going into gas stations before with pop bottles, and you could tell the store was unfamiliar with doing so.
  26. ClarkVolk

    ClarkVolk Initiate (27) Dec 11, 2016 Massachusetts

    If a retailer in Massachusetts accepts bottle returns of products they do not carry / sell (therefore they cannot return them to a distributor for recycling) they can be fined. It's not nonsense. It's the law.

    Retail locations that sell products that can be redeemed for the deposit are required to accept up to 120 units IIRC (5 cases) - more than that, and the retailer has to refer the customer to the nearest actual redemption center. The retailer can refuse to accept the returns if they are in a state that the distributor would not accept them in (e.g. cans covered in mold, dirt, bugs, etc).
    drtth likes this.