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Can stores deny bottle and can refunds? Common questions about recycling in NYS answered

Can stores deny certain recyclable refunds?

The short answer is “under certain circumstances.”


This question was posed to News10NBC after a viewer said they tried to return bottles and cans to the supermarket. A few items were rejected, but they were clearly available for refund in New York State.

Why, or how, could those items be denied if they were in good working order?

The viewer who attempted to return the items was told by an employee at the store that only things they sell can be returned for refund.


What are the rules?

The state has specific guidance on this one. If a store doesn’t carry a specific type of container they don’t have to accept it. Meaning anything that’s the same brand, size, shape, color, and composition of the container in question. If the container doesn’t have a proper label, is damaged, or not in good condition. They can also deny any returns that have anything in it, other than a small amount of dust, moisture, or dirt.


Are any places exempt from those rules?

Absolutely not.

Refunds are technically a two-way street. So, if you are giving the refund, it means you’re charging it, too.

As News10NBC learned, this is a solid setup for another frequently asked question related to bottles and cans.


Why hasn’t the redemption amount changed from 5 cents?

Lawmakers have talked about it over the last two years. It’s a timely question now with the price of everything going up.

But here’s another point: If the refund increases, so does the deposit. So, it would be a wash for those who return bottles and cans.



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