Department of Environmental Conservation

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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 and masks should be worn when social distancing cannot be maintained. 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.

It is important to remember that the redemption of containers is considered an essential service and is expected to continue. While DEC briefly relaxed active enforcement of violations at facilities unable to fulfill redemption operations due to temporary staffing limitations during the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, we expect facilities across the State to take the necessary steps to resume redemption responsibilities and be in compliance once again no later than June 3. Please contact DEC with any questions at nybottle@dec.ny.gov.