More options coming for bottle, can returns

    Susan J. Demas

    Michigan residents with bottles and cans still piled up will soon have more options for redeeming their 10-cent deposits, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced Monday.

    On Oct. 5, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations and other retailers with reverse vending machines for returnable bottles and cans must open to refund outstanding deposits.

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer suspended collections of returnable beverage containers on March 23 due to the COVID-19 crisis. In June, she allowed some returns, but that was limited to facilities that had collection spaces in the front of businesses.

    Retailers with other types of bottle return facilities, including businesses staffed by employees and requiring more than minimal person-to-person contact, may reopen those return facilities at their discretion.

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

    The department said all retailers reopening their bottle return facilities during “Phase 2” must ensure that those facilities comply with all state-mandated safety protocols and restrictions, including the most recent state-mandated safeguards to protect workers.

    In addition, retailers may take any or all the following steps at their discretion:

    • Limit the number of beverage containers that may be returned by a single individual per day to a deposit refund amount of $25, as outlined in state law.
    • Establish special or limited hours of operation for return facilities.
    • Limit the number of available and operating reverse vending machines.
    • Periodically close return facilities as needed for cleaning and supply management.
    • Implement other procedures or restrictions as necessary to promote safety, efficiency or both.
    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.