Bottles and cans piled up? You can return them soon.

    Susan J. Demas

    If you’ve had bags of bottles and cans stacking up during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can finally get your deposit back soon. But you may only be able to get back a maximum of $25 a day, so it might take you a few trips.

    The Department of Treasury announced Monday that some retailers must start to accept returnable beverage containers starting on June 15. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suspended this practice in a March 23 executive order to free up grocery workers for more essential tasks during COVID-19.

    This applies to retailers with bottle return facilities located at the front of the store or housed in a separate area and serviced exclusively by reverse vending machines requiring minimal or no person-to-person contact.

    Retailers reopening their bottle return facilities must ensure those facilities comply with all state-mandated safety protocols and restrictions, including the most recent state-mandated safeguards to protect workers.

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    Retailers may take any or all of the following steps:

    • Limit the number of beverage containers that may be returned by a single individual per day to a $25 deposit refund.
    • Establish special or limited hours of operation for bottle return facilities.
    • Limit the number of available and operating reverse vending machines.
    • Periodically close bottle deposit facilities as needed for cleaning and supply management.

    During this initial phase, retailers must limit the volume of weekly returned beverage containers to no more than 140% of their average weekly collection volume for the period April and May 2019. Treasury will issue further guidance regarding additional phases of the reestablishment of the bottle deposit program in the near future.

    Consumers have the option of recycling their returnable beverage containers if they choose not to return them to a bottle deposit redemption facility.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.