Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

COVID-19 and Bottle Bill Beverage Container Redemption

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) have both issued guidance associated with COVID-19 and waste management.

Currently, there is no evidence that suggests that management of residential wastes or recyclables, including returned containers through the bottle bill, represents a danger to the public. Recycling operations, including redemption of containers through the bottle bill are considered essential services. However, redemption centers should implement appropriate social distancing practices whenever and wherever possible. In general, standard procedures for safe handling of returned containers through the bottle bill should continue to be used, including appropriate gloves and any protective clothing normally employed. Proper hand hygiene should always be employed including the following steps:

  • Signage with handwashing procedures should be posted in prominent locations promoting hand hygiene.
  • Hands should be washed after removing gloves.
  • Regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds should be done:
    • Before and after eating.
    • After sneezing, coughing, or nose blowing.
    • After using the restroom.
    • Before handling food.
    • After touching or cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated.
    • After using shared equipment and supplies like electronic equipment such as keyboards, mice and phones.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

DEC recognizes that unintended consequences of the COVID-19 response may make full compliance with requirements challenging for certain facilities and result in temporary disruptions to required redemption operations. While continuing the redemption of containers is considered an essential service and is expected to continue, DEC will not actively enforce violations at facilities unable to fulfill redemption operations due to resource restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. Please contact the Department with any questions at