Oregon now lets you turn empty bottles and cans into college savings

Chuck Zobrist sorts empty bottles and cans dropped off by a neighbor to redeem for charity. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Empty bottles and cans are the latest way for Oregonians to save for college.

A new partnership between BottleDrop and the Oregon College Savings Plan lets Oregon recyclers transfer money from redeeming bottle deposits into a college savings account.

The partnership works for people with an online BottleDrop account, which is free to set up. Some 330,000 Oregonians already have accounts, according to the BottleDrop website.

“Our collaboration with BottleDrop offers Oregonians with a creative way to save for education and training after high school,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read in a news release.

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A new option on the BottleDrop website lets Oregonians link a college savings account. (Courtesy/Oregon College Savings Plan)

Account holders are credited 10 cents per empty container they return to a BottleDrop location or self-service kiosk.

In Salem, those locations include three redemption centers at 1880 Commercial St NE, 1917 Lancaster Dr NE and 4815 Commercial St SE. Kiosks are available at most local grocery stores including Roth’s, Fred Meyer, Safeway, Bi-Mart, Winco, Walmart, Walgreens and Costco.

That money can be redeemed as cash, grocery store vouchers or donated to participating charities.

Now, people can link an Oregon College Savings Plan account to BottleDrop and set up automatic or manual transfers of at least $5 to the college account.

Oregon’s college accounts are 529 savings accounts, a special type for higher education expenses with federal and state tax benefits.

Account holders can link multiple college accounts to one BottleDrop account and can use the partnership to contribute to their own college savings or a child, relative or friend’s.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.