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Ask Mr. Answer Person: What are the bottle and can return policies of local retailers?

Posted: Mon, Dec 5, 2011 8:21 AM

(The news that Decorah's local bottle and can redemption center plans to shut down eventually has prompted several e-mails from readers.  They are concerned that other businesses might not accept returns.  Some readers have e-mailed that some convenience stores are refusing to accept bottle and can returns, or are limiting the number.

One reader e-mailed: Maybe you can contact the retailers and ask what their return policies are?)

ALL retailers who sell beer, pop and wine, must accept those containers in return--it's state law.  That doesn't mean they have to accept the cans and bottles if they didn't sell them to you in the first place--state law requires them only to accept returns on the beverages that they sell.

State law AT A MINIMUM requires retailers to accept up to 120 containers at a time.  At Quillin's of Decorah, that's the maximum that can be redeemed at any one time.  At Fareway, the maximum is $10, or 200 containers. At WalMart, there is no minimum.

At Fareway, bottle and can returns are accepted from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  At Quillin's, the bottles and cans are accepted any time the store is open.  That's the same situation at WalMart, which, since it's open 24 hours a day, means the store accepts cans and bottles all the time.

Convenience store managers in Decorah agree that they are required to accept cans and bottles.  Not every employee knows this, however, so maybe it's a good idea to print this news story and carry it with you.

(Stores) shall maintain and prominently display at the point of redemption easily readable signage using language developed by the department in cooperation with dealers and redemption centers. The signage shall provide information regarding prohibited practices, consumers' responsibilities when returning containers, and the ability of dealers to limit the number of containers returned in accordance with 107.8(5). (Stores can set a maximum of 120 containers) The department shall provide language for the signs on the department's Web site.

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