Q. What happens to nickel deposit bottles that go into Iowa recycling bins? Could the recycling center coordinate something that those bottles could be put to charitable causes? I imagine it could create a huge impact if folks threw a few bottles in every couple of weeks for charities in the Quad-Cities. To clarify, if you put them (containers) in the Scott County Recycling Bin. What does the county do with them? — Dave, Bettendorf
A. We contacted the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Waste Management of Scott County regarding your questions. Bill Blum, Iowa DNR Land Quality Bureau, responded:
"Here is what happens to 'unclaimed deposits': the distributors have the nickels from cans and bottles that are never redeemed (those put into conventional recycling bins, for example). And because there is nothing in the 'Bottle Bill' that addresses what happens to unclaimed deposits, it's presumed that, over time, the distributors just treat that money like it's their own 'revenue.' The only legal concept that would seem to apply is the same one that allows other businesses to convert into 'income' other people's abandoned property that they are holding (cold storage units for example). Distributors don't turn 'unclaimed deposits' in to anybody; they just never pay them out as refunds, and eventually simply count them as if they'd 'earned' them.
"Recycling centers can absolutely use deposit/refund containers for any sort of charitable fundraising; a long established application of the 'Bottle Bill.' It helps in redeeming large amounts of cans and bottles to contact redemption centers or distributors or major beverage retailers (Hy-Vee, Walmart, etc.) ahead of time to coordinate how best to turn empties into cash."
Kathy Morris, director of the Waste Commission of Scott County, said, "We receive over 70 tons of recyclables per day and process at a rate of 10 tons per hour. The aluminum cans are recovered automatically by an eddy current separator. The cans are collected in a bunker that when full is automatically fed into a conveyor that transports them to the baler. When we have a semi-load of aluminum bales, they are marketed. Due to the quantity of material and the sortation system, there is no opportunity to separate out the redemption containers. The deposit is unredeemed."
Q. In light of recent route changes to the MetroLINK bus system, I've got to wonder if there are any former colored routes (like the recently discontinued Route 90 Teal) that used to exist that are now gone. I heard that there used to be a Route 45 that served Rock Island and it took you to Jumer's Casino. Is this true, and if so, what color was it associated with? I paid a visit to several versions of MetroLINK's website and found that the 45 was shaded with a light orange color. — Lee
A. We contacted MetroLINK to find out. Barb Springer responded: "When the Casino first opened, it was served by the Route 45, which was an express bus from downtown Rock Island to the Casino. However, based on low ridership, the express route was discontinued and the regular Route 40 continued service to the Casino."