All stores that sell returnable bottles and cans must now accept them

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 7:38 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/16/2020) - Good news for those of you who may still have bags and bags of returnable bottles and cans.

Effective immediately, all retailers who sell beverages with 10 cent deposits, must take back the empties.

Bags of cans and bottle returns stack up in the back room of Khirfan’s Super K in Mundy Township.

And many more could be on the way after the Michigan Department of Treasury decided to remove most can and bottle restrictions for smaller retailers.

“Some of the smaller retailers just don’t have the space to house them all. It’s not even about the money as it is about the space,” said Khirfan’s Super K Owner Brad Khirfan.

That space has come at a premium since they don’t have the equipment to crush bottles and cans.

Distributors have also been slow to pick up the empties or limiting what can be returned.

But, mom and pop shops anticipate smoother operations in the future.

“It’s starting to slowly get better, and I think that people are emptying out their garages and so forth," Khirfan added. "So, I anticipate in the next few months it should be back to normal, unless we have an additional stay at home order.”

Even with the relaxed rules, one customer I talked to isn’t so sure about immediately returning her 5 bags of cans.

“I’m still apprehensive because the virus is still alive and is on the rise. And the last I heard, it stays on surfaces a long time. So, I’m still kind of apprehensive, I’m going to hold on to them for a little while yet before I get rid of them,” commented Fenton resident Josie Perry.

The re-opening is also welcome news to recyclers who struggled until June, when big retailers were allowed to accept returns.

“The more volume we have to run the more efficient we’ll be. So, by the rest of the stores being turned on, that will clearly help our efficiency and give us a chance to recover from some of the losses, significant losses that we experienced during the eleven week shut-down,” said Schupan Recycling CEO Tom Emmerich.

Smaller grocery and convenient stores hope they’re not overwhelmed by a surge in returns all at the same time.

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