During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds put a moratorium on the Iowa bottle bill. Grocery stores no longer had to take in bottles and cans for their five cent deposit. The governor lifted that ban over two months ago, allowing stores to begin taking in cans and bottles again. But despite that, Fareway grocery stores continue to reject those deposits, and risk criminal charges in doing so.

According to the Des Moines Register, a Fareway spokeswoman spoke to Watchdog, and said that accepting potentially contaminated containers inside the store during the ongoing pandemic puts customers and employees at risk. They said that stores do not want employees handling the containers that could be contaminated inside a store that also prepares and sells fresh foods. Fareway officials claim they've heard from many customers that appreciate them not accepting cans and bottles.

Legally, however, Fareway isn't exactly on solid ground. The Register reports that Iowa's Department of Natural Resources ruled last week against an August petition that was filed by the Iowa Grocery Industry Association challenging it's authority to decide which stores must offer redemptions under the state's bottle bill of 1979. Currently, a store may decline to offer redemption if they are within 10 miles of a DNR certified redemption center.

The Register says that Fareway officials say they are encouraging customers to take their containers to redemption centers that they have agreements with. That information is posted at each Fareway store location.

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