What is the policy in New York State about returning cans and bottles and who is an isn't allowed to do so?

In New York State when you buy a can or bottle that can be returned for deposit you pay for that deposit ahead of time. The thought process behind that is that you'll get your money back once you return them.

Are you taking advantage of this or are you like me, and just throw all your recycling into the bin to be taken away with all the other cans, plastic, and carboard? I am totally guilty of not getting my money back on cans and bottles. So what if someone else were to grab my empty cans and try to return them for 5 cents? Is that allowed?

In short - no

However, I don't think there is any way to stop someone else from returning the bottles and cans. Places in New York do not require you to show a proof of purchase to make a return.

Earlier this week I was kind of started when I saw an story abut New York banning certain people from returning cans and bottles. Why would they do that?

I decided to look into it and find out who exactly was "banned" from doing this and why they would be banned because I couldn't really understand why a policy like this would be put into place.

What I found is that there is no ban on people returning bottles and cans and no ban on returning types of certain bottles and cans. There is a policy that's been in place to make sure that we are allowed to make these returns as hassle free as possible called the Bottle Bill.

Going along with the Bottle Bill is the New York State Bottle Bill or Rights. There is language in there that says that it is illegal to return cans and bottles you have not purchased in New York State.

It is illegal to return containers for refund that you did not pay a deposit on in New York State.

This is really no different than what it has been for years. Certain states only allow you to return their bottles there. There are also certain things sold that so not meet the bottle deposit requirements for all states. I am sure you've all seen the red band on bottles bought out of New York State before.


Can a store reject your deposit? Absolutely. Here's why they might:

  • The store does not carry that type of container, meaning the same brand, size, shape, color and composition of the container.
  • The container does not have a proper New York refund label.
  • The container is not in reasonably good condition. A store may reject broken bottles or cans that are corroded or crushed.
  • The container has anything in it besides small amounts of dirt, dust or moisture.

Always make sure to fact check these things you see online. There is no "ban" on returning cans and bottles. There have always been certain cans and bottles we can and cannot redeem for deposit.

Just to get you up to speed on the types of containers you can return for deposit here in NYS, here is a list from the DEC.

  • Carbonated Soft Drinks, including Sparkling Water
  • Carbonated Energy Drinks
  • Carbonated Juice (anything less than 100% juice, containing added sugar or water)
  • Carbonated Tea
  • Soda Water
  • Beer and Other Malt Beverages
  • Mineral Water - Both carbonated and non-carbonated mineral water
  • Wine Products
  • Water which does not contain sugar, including flavored or nutritionally enhanced water

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