Oregon Bottle Bill 50th Anniversary

A five or now a ten-cent deposit on a bottled beverage is just a fact of life in Oregon. But that was not always the case. In 1969: Representatives Paul Hannemann and Roger Martin, and Senator Robert Elfstrom at the behest of a private citizen, Rich Chambers, brought a bill before the Legislature asking for a deposit on bottled beverages. However, the bill quickly died after it was referred back to committee, where it likely failed due to the number of industries that had gotten involved in the legislative process. Lawmakers, however, were undeterred. Later in the same year, Governor Tom McCall brought together people of various sectors to form SOLV or Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism. With the help of SOLV, and several more deposit bill attempts across the country and even in other parts of the world, the Oregon Bottle Bill finally was signed into law on July 2nd, 1971, to go into effect on October 1st, 1972.

But that was not the end of difficulties for the bottle bill. It would face many legal challenges throughout the next few years, as bottling companies tried to dismantle the bill from any angle possible—the constitutionality of the law, how the law affected their business within the state, that litter had actually increased rather than decreasing. But all challenges failed because the evidence was just not there. There was even an increase in employment after the passage of the bill, despite fears that the bill would decrease employment.

For more information on the Oregon Bottle Bill, visit the Oregon Encyclopedia. This digital highlight debuted in October 2022.