Petrotahlil — Connecticut is the first state in the US to restart container deposit programs after suspending operations at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.
Retailers in the state began accepting a limited amount of beverage containers for deposit last week and have announced plans to resume operations entirely by June 3, according to Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Ten states in the US currently have "bottle bills," or mandatory container buyback programs. Since the beginning of the pandemic, nine of these ten states – California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, New York, and Vermont – had temporarily halted or severely limited enforcements that required retailers to participate in container redemption programs. This means that residents in these states were no longer able to redeem their used beverage bottles for deposit value.
Now, Connecticut is in the process of slowly re-opening buyback or drop-off centers, as well as resuming collection activities at grocery stores. The initial restart phase includes a daily cap on the number of containers accepted, limited hours to facilitate cleaning, and appropriate social distancing requirements including the use of masks and nitrile gloves.
"Resumption of redemption services at retail locations is very important, as recycling is a vital component of Connecticut's solid waste management system, and deposit container redemption provides recyclers with a high-quality feedstock while reducing litter and greenhouse gas emissions," said the agency.
Since May 20, Connecticut retailers by law must accept empty beverage containers provided that such containers are free of contaminants and not comingled with other materials. However, employers who are unable to supply workers with adequate PPE were instructed not to resume operations until the necessary protective gear was available.