Monday, July 11, 2011

The Bottle Bill

Tonight I walked over to my local beer outlet in Davis Square, Downtown Wine and Spirits, to return empties and buy more beer. I really like the selection at Downtown, but they are a pain to deal with regarding empties. Like many liquor stores, they have gone to the freakin' redemption machines that turn what should be a really quick transaction into a drawn-out process of shoving in bottles Downtown is also slow to update the machines when they add new brands, with the result that you have to return some bottles outside and then get on line to return the rest inside - where they take them rather grudgingly.

Tonight, the machine was just flat-out down, and when I took the bottles inside, the guy behind the counter tried to tell me that I'd have to come back once the machine was repaired. I got pushy and got him to take my bottles - but the confrontation sucked.

SO - when I got home, I checked on the law. Here's a part of what the Massachusetts state government site has to say about the bottle bill (I've added some emphasis at places):

Where can I return empty beverage containers?
Residents can return empty containers to any redemption center that agrees to accept the containers, or any retail outlet that sells or sold within the past sixty days the same brand, type and size of container. Retail outlets must redeem containers for their full redemption value. 

What obligations do retailers have in accepting containers?
Retailers must redeem empty containers during all of their business hours. There is no similar restriction on redemption centers. Restaurants charging a deposit on containers for off- or on-premise consumption must redeem empty containers. Restaurants do not have to redeem empty containers if they sell beverages for on-premise consumption and do not charge a deposit. Vending machine operators must redeem containers at the location of the vending machine, or post a conspicuous notice on the machine stating where and from whom a refund may be obtained. The notice does not have to specify how close the refund location is to the vending machine. If you encounter a business that is not complying with any of these requirements, you may register a complaint by calling the MassDEP Bottle Bill Hotline at 617-556-1054.

Is there a limit on the number of containers that can be returned at one time?
A retailer is only required to accept 120 containers in one day from any one person, but may choose to accept more. There is no similar restriction on redemption centers.

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