Two Queens stores busted for no returns policy – QNS.com

Two Queens stores busted for no returns policy

In a late-October sweep by state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) police, 127 stores - two of them in Queens - were issued summonses for violating New York’s bottle deposit laws.
Investigators from each of the agency’s nine regional offices - some of them armed - participated in the one-day undercover investigation on Wednesday October 29, according to a statement from DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.
They visited 652 stores across the state that sell beer, soda, and other carbonated beverages in containers that require a five-cent return deposit.
Officers attempted to return a variety of redeemable cans and bottles to stores and issued 127 notices of violation for the state’s Bottle Bill, also known as the Returnable Container Act, when store operators refused to accept the returns, or if other violations took place.
“The Bottle Bill has been a key component of New York’s recycling programs for more than two decades and is a crucial part of the state’s efforts to decrease our dependence on landfills and promote cleaner communities,” Grannis said.
The five boroughs of New York City comprise DEC Region 2, where 66 stores were targeted and 13 of them in Queens. Citywide 18 stores got violations.
The two Queens locations that received violations were C-Town, at 45-65 21st Street in Long Island City, and Zoris, a local convenience store at 59-33 159th Street in Fresh Meadows.
“While many sales outlets were found to be in compliance with the law, the enforcement operation served as another reminder that DEC is committed to full compliance both for the benefit and protection of the consumer and our environment,” Grannis said.
The notices of violation are the first step in DEC’s enforcement process.
Next, DEC legal staff will be working with storeowners or parent corporations to address the violations - and assess penalties, which could range up to $500 per violation.
“We’re not sure what prompted this unprecedented enforcement operation,” said New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) president James Calvin, whose group is fighting against a proposed “Bigger Better Bottle Bill” being considered in Albany.
The group is warning storeowners however, in Calvin’s words, “Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is that stores selling beverages have a duty to know the law and comply with it.”
Storeowners and operators are required to “redeem” or take back, the deposit containers for products that they sell and refund the deposit.
According NYACS, stores can place a limit on the number of containers they will redeem from an individual on a single day - but the lower limit is 240 containers. Furthermore, a sign must be posted in a clear and visible location, and individuals can bring in an unlimited number, with 48-hours notice.
If a store is open 24-hours, they must be able to redeem containers around the clock. Otherwise, refusal to redeem containers may only take place during the first and last half hour of operation.
“Perhaps DEC suspected widespread non-compliance,” Calvin speculated.
-With additional reporting by Anthony N. Tetro

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