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Plastic Bottles Pave the Path to Affordable College Tuition in Oregon

November 25, 2019
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Plastic Bottles Pave the Path to Affordable College Tuition in Oregon
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By redeeming recyclables, Oregonians can save for post-secondary education. Photo by Tom Werner/Getty Images
Plastic bottles and aluminum cans are now helping fund tuition for Oregonians.

Instead of taking their recyclables to the curb, Oregonians can now turn their cans and bottles into money for higher education. 

Thanks to a new partnership between BottleDrop, Oregon’s redemption center for recyclable goods, and the Oregon College Savings Plan, the state’s 529 college savings plan, residents can directly add funds from redeemed cans and bottles to an existing college savings accounts. 

Previously recyclers had three options on how to receive the funds: cash, grocery store vouchers or donations toward a nonprofit. But this partnership adds a fourth option that makes it easier for participants to save for tuition.

To take part in the program, recyclers first need to create an online BottleDrop account where they can link college savings accounts for themselves or anyone else — family or friend — as long as the recipient has an Oregon College Savings account.

Each recycled container is worth 10 cents, and there are over 50 drop-off locations across the state. 

“Our collaboration with BottleDrop offers Oregonians with a creative way to save for education and training after high school,” Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read said in a news release. “We know that no matter where you live in Oregon, every penny adds up, and we want to make it easier for everyone to start saving for their future today.”

Although 10 cents might not seem like much compared to the total cost of college tuition, the 529 program is a taxed-advantaged plan that will accrue interest over time. More importantly, studies show that students who have college savings accounts, no matter how much or how little money is in the account, are more likely to go to college. Research from the Center for Social Development at the University of Washington in St. Louis showed that a child from a middle- or low-income household with a savings account is three times more likely to go to college than their counterparts without a savings account. 

“For nearly 50 years, families have used bottle and can returns to teach kids about family finances and conserving natural resources,” Jules Bailey, Chief Stewardship Officer and Director of External Relations for the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative said in a news release. “The BottleDrop partnership with the Oregon College Savings Plan offers Oregon families another easy way to turn their small deposits into big returns for their future.” 

More: This Oregon College Knocked Textbook Prices down from $200 to $40 with One Move

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