TRAVERSE CITY — People will have to keep their returnable bottles and cans at home for now after their collection was temporarily sidelined by COVID-19.

Meijer suspended bottle returns across Michigan on Tuesday. The company also asked its customers not to use reusable grocery bags unless they are using the store’s shop and scan service.

The action comes in the wake of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-21. The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, the Midwest Retailers Association and the Michigan Retailers Association on Tuesday advised Michigan retailers and distributors to no longer accept returnable beer, wine and soda bottles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Studies have shown that the coronavirus that causes the disease can live on plastic for up to three days and can potentially infect employees handling the returnables, and spread to their families and loved ones, the associations stated in a combined press release.

Retailers and distributors in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont have also stopped taking the returnables.

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