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The Return of Bottle Returns

Perhaps one of Michigan’s most famous laws, the Beverage Container Deposit Law in its superlative 10¢ return, was suspended earlier this year among myriad other COVID-19 restrictions. But, Thursday, the Michigan Department of Treasury officially reestablished the law in its entirety.

Since June, bottle return locations have been reintroduced in two distinct phases. The first phase required stores with return facilities either near the front or separate from the store to take container returns. Next, just earlier this month, the second phase required access to the “reverse vending machines” in supermarkets, grocery stores and gas stations.

Before, grocery stores were allowed to divert employees away from maintaining bottle return machines toward sanitation requirements or to account for short-staffed conditions. So, for a time, it wasn’t possible to return cans or bottles as it is usually.

Now, not only have bottle return facilities been restored completely, but the Treasury notice also makes clear that bottle return hosts are responsible for COVID-19 measures in order to protect “both workers and the public.”  They go on to remind the public of some specifics of the underlying container deposit law, including the right of return facilities to limit individuals at $25 per day of container returns.

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