If you have cans or bottles you were planning on recycling you may have to hold on to them for a while due to a change in policy in response to COVID-19.
Earlier this week the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversees the beverage container return program in Oregon, notified retailers that they won’t be penalized for not accepting can and bottle returns. Since then, most grocery stores and markets in Douglas County have closed their beverage container return services.
The OLCC said it won’t penalize stores for not taking the return container through March 31. The move came after a number of grocery stores asked the OLCC for relief, saying their staffs were busy trying to restock rapidly shelves, sanitize their stores and practice social distancing.
“We gave people flexibility so they can attend to their urgent needs,” said Matthew Van Sickle, a public information officer with the OLCC.
Van Sickle said it is up to each store to decide whether they continue to accept beverage containers during the grace period and recommended people call ahead to see if a store is still taking cans and bottles.
However, the Roseburg BottleDrop Redemption Center at 740 NE Garden Valley Blvd., is still taking cans and bottles. The BottleDrop is part of the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which told the OLCC it will continue to accept cans and bottles, Van Sickle said.
There were about a dozen people returning their cans and bottles on Thursday afternoon, and a worker there said there hadn’t been an increase in customers this week.
The OLCC issued the following statement this week:
“Providing temporary relief through this action will allow grocers greater flexibility to more effectively manage and maintain a safe and healthy store environment. ... The OLCC will continue to monitor the effects of this action and the impact on the grocery industry.
“The OLCC is asking for the cooperation of all citizens through the duration of this temporary action. Because not all communities have redemption centers, citizens are being asked to safely store bottles and cans until redemption services resume. The OLCC recognizes this is an inconvenience, but store redemption and collection environments need to be sanitarily maintained throughout this outbreak.”