Bottle Bill Resource Guide

The COVID-19 pandemic has led most U.S. deposit states and some Canadian provinces  to temporarily halt enforcement actions on retailers who suspend bottle & can redemption activities for the duration of the outbreak. Generally speaking, these announcements do not affect redemption centers, who are free to close their doors in the interests of safety if they so choose.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please save bottles & cans for recycling! If you live in one of the states or provinces listed below, please rinse your bottles & cans so they don’t smell while you save them for later redemption. Please note that if curbside pickup is still operating in your area, the containers may not be recycled if area materials recovery facilities (MRFs) have reduced their sorting lines to protect worker health. To avoid your bottles & cans going to landfill, rinse & save for later redemption!

Announcements for Selected U.S. Deposit States: 

Connecticut: Suspension of enforcement actions against retailers for failing to accept empty beverage containers for redemption. Effective Mar. 17 – 31, extended to April 30. See Official announcement by CT DEEP and Statement from Connecticut Citizens for the Environment. April 30 extension: personal communication with Edith Pestana, CT DEEP.

Iowa: Suspension of regulatory provisions requiring dealers [retailers] to accept empty deposit beverage containers. Effective for duration of this disaster emergency. See Section 18 of the Governnor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency.

Maine: Suspension of enforcement on retailers and redemption centers for failing to accept beverage containers; Effective Mar. 18 – 31, extended to April 30. Maine Recycling and Returnable Services (TOMRA) and CLYNK are both operating and picking up from redemption centers. See: Official announcement from Maine DEP and announcement from CLYNK.comApril 15 extension: personal communication with Scott Wilson, Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Massachusetts: Suspension of enforcement of the requirements for retailers to accept beverage containers that have a deposit, effective immediately until further notice. See: Official announcement from the Mass. DEP and the Attorney General’s Office.

Michigan: Temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, defining bottle return as not an essential service or critical infrastructure. "There will be no change in the deposit collected at the time of purchase during this temporary suspension of bottle return services." See: Michigan Executive Order, No. 2020-21.

New York: The DEC will not actively enforce violations at facilities unable to fulfill redemption operations due to resource restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. See:  Official announcement from New York DEP.

Oregon: Suspension of enforcement actions against retailers that choose not to redeem empty beverage containers covered under Oregon’s Bottle Bill. Originally ended March 31, 2020; extended to April 30. BottleDrop redemption centers and Express locations will continue to accept green and blue bags at certain locations. See: First official announcement from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). See: Announcement of extension to April 30.

Vermont: Temporarily stops pursuing enforcement action against retailers or redemption centers who fail to redeem beverage containers subject to Vermont’s bottle bill law. Effective through April 30, 2020 unless extended by DEC. See: Official announcement from the VT Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

No announcements yet for: California or Hawaii.

States with Shelter in place or Stay at Home Orders: 
The following states currently have shelter-in-place or stay-at-home  orders that may inhibit consumers from returning their deposit containers for refund even if redemption centers remain open in their states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma (partial restrictions), Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.  
States with Non-Essential Business Closures: Kentucky, Maryland,  Pennsylvania.
Cities and Counties with Stay at Home Orders or Non-Essential Business Closures: Birmingham, AL;  Washington, DC; Nashville, TN; Kansas City, and 13 other counties in MO; Charlotte, Raleigh, NC; Philadelphia, and 19 other counties in PA; Charleston and Columbia, SC; Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and "Harris County, which includes Houston; Dallas and Tarrant Counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth region; and Bexar County, which includes San Antonio" and multiple other counties in TX; Park City, Salt Lake County, Summit County, UT; Jackson, WY.
Sources: New York Times, updated Apr. 1, 2020; CNN, updated Fri March 27, 2020 5:12 PM ET, Business Insider, updated March 27. 2020  4:30 PM; Wall Street Journal, updated March 24, 2020 8:59 pm ET.

Announcements for Canadian Provinces:

New Brunswick: The cessation of redemption activities is implied by declaration of State of Emergency, Office of the Premier, "All businesses in retail sales will stop admitting patrons;" redemption activities are not among the exceptions to this prohibition. 

Quebec: While "collection and sorting services for recyclable materials" is deemed an "essential service," and while "the risk of contamination remains low" [for container redemption], the province has asked consumers to  keep  used containers at home, and to claim the deposit refund when the situation has returned to normal.

No changes announced yet for: Alberta, British Columbia, other Canadian provinces.

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