OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — Over the years, Dr. Steve Milner has helped low-income families in his Oregon City veterinary hospital — with assistance from volunteers collecting cans and bottles.
The idea started about 10 years thanks to a client. Then, when BottleDrop opened, Dr. Milner’s clinic created an account with them and started to hand out green bags. The program allows individuals and families to collect bottles and cans and then receive money once the items are dropped off at a redemption center.
“In the last couple of years, we have been bringing in about $18,000 a year,” Dr. Milner told KOIN 6 News.
The money goes toward helping animals like Skittles — a 15-year-old cat whose eye recently ruptured. Milner said they stayed late one Saturday night to help the cat and her owner, who couldn’t afford the procedure. Skittles didn’t spend the weekend with a ruptured eye and Milner’s clinic paid the bills.
“Seventy-five animals we treated last year — some of them we partially paid their bills, some we paid in full price,“ Dr. Milner said.
BottleDrop limits green bag customers to two bags a day — which is where Dr. Milner ran into a problem.
“We have a bag return limit because returning high volumes of containers could count as income, and if that’s income then it is taxable income,” Joel Schoening with the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative and BottleDrop said.
Schoening said they reminded Dr. Milner of the Green Bag policy for years before closing his account.
“We needed to close his account in fairness to all of our other BottleDrop users,” he told KOIN 6. “We apologize if there has been any miscommunication with Dr. Milner, but we have worked hard to inform him of our terms and conditions over the years.”
The bag limit wasn’t the only issue with Dr. Milner’s account.
Both Schoening and Dr. Milner said that the dropped off bags sometimes had trash like tinfoil in them. Dr. Milner said he would pull the unreturnable items out, but he added that some clients dropped off their owns bags.
According to the Recycling Cooperative, they encouraged Dr. Milner to sign up for the “BottleDrop Give” blue bag program, which is specifically organized for charities — and it meets the standards of transparency in tax law.
However, Dr. Milner said he doesn’t meet the requirements.
“It’s for nonprofits only. We’re not a nonprofit, and we just don’t qualify,” he said. “All I want is them to just work with us,”
The Recycling Cooperative added that if Dr. Milner forms a nonprofit, he’s welcome to return. They’ve also offered to help get him set up with a blue bag account.
Schoening told KOIN 6 there are other ways Dr. Milner can get those donations.
“He can come back and use the self-serve reverse vending machines,” Schoening said. “His donors can set up green bags with us, can donate the money directly to him. The service is still available to him, he just can’t use the green bag account to collect his income.”