COVID-19: the returnable containers are frightening to food retailers

Supermarkets and convenience stores are afraid of the risk of contamination to the COVID-19 when their employees handle the bottles and cans recorded that are returned after use by their customers.

Two groups of retailers in the food sector have echoed the fears of their members.

“In a perspective of prudence, some of our members are starting to worry about the accumulation of containers soiled with saliva in the machines receiving containers and the handling of containers by the employees”, stated in an interview Jean-François Belleau, director of government relations for the canadian Council of the retail trade.

Mr. Belleau acknowledges that there is nothing that currently allows to assess the real risk for employees who handle the containers. Some of the convenience stores that are members of its consolidation would have stopped accepting recycled containers, in Quebec, even though the law obliges them to do so.

“The wish would be to suspend temporarily the duty harvesting containers and find an alternative to avoid they end up in landfill sites”, he said.


The Association des détaillants en alimentation (ADA) of Quebec made the same observation. His spokesman, Stephane Lacasse, has been informed that a supermarket chain would have also stopped accepting returnable containers.

“There has been a directive from Loblaw not to recover the containers, which has been sent to the Maxi and Provigo this [Tuesday] morning”, he said in an interview.

Merchants have reported this information on the ADA, who shared their concerns for the public health.

A request for interview was made from Loblaw to confirm the information, but the company had not yet responded at the time of the writing of this text.


A spokesperson for RECYC-QUÉBEC, Brigitte Geoffroy, said the agency, which manages the folder of returnable containers, has been informed of these concerns.

For the time being, the agency recommends to the population to “keep the containers in the house”.

RECYC-QUÉBEC will be able to give more details later Tuesday.

– With the collaboration of Jean-François Gibeault

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