Iowa’s Attorney General is putting the lid on a grocery store chain’s decision to not pay back deposits on beverage cans and bottles. Several of the stores in the Boone-based Fareway chain stopped accepting returned bottles and cans for their nickle deposits in November. Iowa’s 25-year-old redemption law says stores can take that step if there’s a D-N-R approved redemption center that would take the empties. But Attorney General Tom Miller says many of the Fareway stores didn’t have approval for alternate redemption sites. Miller’s sent Fareway executives a letter telling them to go back to accepting the containers. He says he’s notified Fareway that the law is clear that they have to take back the containers and pay the deposits unless there’s a D-N-R approved redemption center in close proximity.Miller explains Fareway can only stop taking back empties for deposits if they line up the redemption centers that meet the criteria of the law. He says the redemption centers have to be approved by the D-N-R and be in close proximity. Miller says “close proximity” is “common sense”, if it’s right next door, that complies. He says if the redemption center is miles away — it doesn’t comply. Miller says he could take legal action against Fareway if they don’t start accepting the cans and bottles again — but he doesn’t think it will come to that. He says, “Fareway’s been a wonderful corporate citizen, a wonderful store in our state and we assume they’re gonna comply.” Other supermarket chains have said they were considering following Fareway’s lead, and Miller says this action should send a message to them to comply as well. Miller says he contacted Fareway at the request of the Iowa D-N-R — which he says has gotten complaints from numerous citizens and several county attorneys offices over Fareway’s refusal to redeem the beverage containers. Fareway’s action also prompted discussion among legislators and the issue could be addressed when the legislature convenes again next week.
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