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Oregon’s expanded bottle deposit law kicks in on Jan. 1

EUGENE, Ore. – Starting Jan. 1, Oregonians will have to cough up an extra nickel when they buy a bottle of water.

Adding deposits for water containers is one of the major changes to the 38-year-old Oregon bottle bill that now covers beer and soda containers.

Legislation approved in 2007 law also allows customers to bring the empties back to any retailer that sells a particular product.

For example, if a store sells beer, it must redeem all types of empty beer cans and bottles. Previously the stores had to accept only the brands they sold.

Grocers, distributors and producers are scrambling to prepare for the changes.

“We’re moving frantically right now to be sure that we’re as ready as we possibly can be,” said Dan Floyd, Safeway’s director of public affairs and government relations for Oregon. “But it’s going to be difficult the first few months. No doubt about it.”

Retailers have a number of concerns, among them the possibility that people will stock up on bottles before Jan. 1, paying no deposit, and then return them after the first of the year to collect.

Although these changes mark some of the first since the bill was adopted in 1971, they may not be the last.

A task force has recommended a number of additional changes to the 2009 Legislature. They include increasing the refundable deposit to a dime and further expanding the sorts of beverages covered.