News Story

Amid Pandemic, Michigan Consumers Return Germ-Soaked Bottles To Food Stores

‘Cans and bottles are very dirty’; just 10 states have ‘bottle bills’

The National Institutes of Health has reported the virus that causes COVID-19 coronavirus can be detected on plastic for up to three days, according to a study.

So one trade association is wondering why Michigan residents are still allowed to bring dirty bottles back to places where they also buy their food during a pandemic.

“It’s a major danger,” said Auday Arabo, president of the Midwest Independent Retailers Association. “We’ve always said that cans and bottle are very dirty. It’s the same place people go to buy food. At the end of the day, somebody is going to be touching those cans. … You don’t bring trash back to the same place you buy food.”

The Midwest Independent Retailers Association has asked Michigan to suspend bottle returns at stores.

The National Conference of State Legislatures stated that Michigan is one of 10 states that have beverage container deposit laws.

The other states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

Iowa, Oregon, Connecticut and Massachusetts have already suspended their bottle-return policies.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is making this recommendation to the governor and the state legislature:

Suspend or Repeal the Bottle Deposit Law: The redemption of bottle deposits involves Michiganders carrying millions of unwashed but massively handled – and possibly contaminated – loose items for more touching and handling in grocery stores. This pandemic has transformed the bottle-deposit scheme from a massively unsanitary idea to a potentially lethal one. At a minimum, the collection of bottle deposits and return of bottles for recycling at grocery stores must be immediately suspended for the duration of the pandemic for public health reasons, as Oregon, Iowa, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have already done.