DETROIT LAKE, Ore. (KOIN) — As the days added up, and the bottles and cans piled higher and higher toward the ceiling, Steve Chittenden started to realize there was a problem. 

Steve Chittenden with Kane's Marina said their recycling went months without getting picked up. (KOIN)

“It’s terrible,” Chittenden said. “What are you going to do? A mountain of recycling and no place to put it. And they’re the only ones I can call.”Chittenden is referring to the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC). OBRC is responsible for picking up recycling from all grocery and convenience stores in the state, including Chittenden’s employer, Kane’s Marina in Detroit Lake. OBRC then reimburses the stores for the dimes given to shoppers who return bottles and cans. 

Oregon recently expanded the bottle bill. In April 2017, redemption rates went from 5 cents to 10 cents. Then in January, Oregonians could redeem more types of bottles. 

The expansion has worked to increase recycling rates. 

“Now (there are) 30 percent more containers than we were at last year,” OBRC spokesperson Joel Schoening said. 

But there have also been growing pains. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission enforces the bottle bill. The agency has received 14 complaints about missed pickups this year, an increase from 2017. The OBRC said it has added 54 truckloads each week to pick up all the recycling.

Chittenden said Kane’s Marina wasn’t helped by the increase in capacity. Chittenden said he and his boss called every day, sometimes twice a day. KOIN 6 News checked Chittenden’s phone and saw outgoing call after call. 

“I don’t have a record of those phone calls,” Schoening said. “(I) would be happy to look into that.” 

Schoening admitted in a later email that OBRC missed pickups at Kane’s Marina in July, saying it was largely because their trucks filled up before reaching the marina. 

A day after KOIN 6 News talked with OBRC, Kane’s Marina got their recyclables scheduled to be picked up.

Chittenden said he wasn’t one of the 14 complaints because he didn’t know how to get the problem fixed. That’s why he reached out to KOIN 6 News. The problem with missed pick-ups is likely under-reported; KOIN 6 spoke with other businesses who also had issues that went unreported to OLCC.

A generic image of the ORBC uploaded on Sept. 24, 2018. (KOIN)
If you have a story idea you can contact KOIN 6 News at news@koin.com or use the ReportIt button on your KOIN 6 app.