Making Sense of Cents

With so many different kinds of containers and retailers in Oregon, getting into the habit of redeeming your bottles and cans can seem a little daunting. Fortunately, when you know your nickel, it's easy! Here's everything you need to know about making sense of cents.

How do I know what's redeemable?

Redeemable containers include water, flavored water, beer or other malt beverages, mineral water, soda water, and carbonated soft drinks. But the only way to know for sure is to look on the container for the OR 5¢ mark, which is often found on the label or lid. Just remember, only containers purchased in Oregon are returnable.

What's NOT redeemable?

Currently sports drinks, juices, and teas are not redeemable, but in 2011, legislation was passed to include all beverages except wine, liquor, milk, and milk substitutes, which will go into effect in January 2018. Containers purchased out of state are not redeemable.

Where can I return my containers?

You can redeem bottles and cans any place they're sold, but that doesn't mean you have to return them to the place you bought them. Here are the details:

  • Retail outlets of 5,000 square feet or more (most grocery stores and retailers) are required to accept bottles and cans of all brands and sizes for each type of beverage they sell (soda, beer, etc). You can redeem up to 144 containers a day at these locations.
  • Retailers less than 5,000 square feet (gas stations, small grocers, etc.) are required to accept only brands and sizes they sell. You can redeem up to 50 containers a day at these locations.
  • OBRC's BottleDrop Centers are a fast, clean and convenient way to redeem bottles and cans, and accept all types and sizes of deposit containers. Their spacious indoor facilities, friendly and helpful staff, and innovative new EZ Drop system make returning your containers a breeze.

Why is the machine not taking my bottle/can?

Reverse vending machines work by scanning the barcode of the bottle or can you're returning. This scan verifies that the item is redeemable, and identifies the size and type of container. If the barcode on your bottle or can is damaged, dirty, or missing, the container can't be returned. In rare instances of newly released products, the barcode may not have been added to the machine's database yet, and in this event you can take the container to a store representative for your deposit.

How can I organize a bottle or can drive for my school/club/charity/etc.?

Bottle and can drives are a great way to raise money for your community, and there are lots of resources to help incorporate fundraising into your next event. Information on organizing fundraisers can be found on our outreach page here.