Meijer suspends bottle, can returns at Michigan stores

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Meijer announced Tuesday it is temporarily suspending bottle and can returns at all of its Michigan stores amid the coronavirus.

"Additionally, the retailer is asking customers at all its stores throughout the Midwest to refrain from shopping with reusable bags, unless they are using the Meijer Shop & Scan service," Meijer officials said in a statement.

"These changes are part of the retailer’s ongoing efforts to ensure Meijer team members can do their jobs in the safest manner while ensuring the most sanitary conditions possible in its stores."

Customers wait in line at the Meijer store in Madison Heights on Monday, the day Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order took effect. The order allows for grocery shopping, trips out for essential items or services and for workers deemed essential to get to work.

The move came a day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a wide-ranging order that requires businesses in Michigan not considered essential to the state's infrastructure to limit operations and most residents to primarily stay at home.

According to the Michigan Retailers Association website, "the Governor's Office clarified that they do not consider bottle and can returns under the state’s bottle deposit law an essential service under Executive Order 2020-21," which lasts through April 13.

In a joint statement Monday, leaders for the group as well as the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association and the Midwest Independent Retailers Association said they planned to stop accepting and collecting empty beverage containers during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Several other states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont, have done the same," the statement said. "The COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces for several days, putting our employees and their loved ones at risk each time they collect empty beverage containers. This is part of our ongoing effort to ensure our employees are able to carry out their jobs in the safest manner possible while doing our part to comply with the governor’s recent orders.”