How to Return Beer Bottles

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Many beer drinkers don't realize that you can return empty beer bottles for a small reimbursement of about five or 10 cents per bottle. That is a credit toward your next beer purchase. The main point of recycling the bottles is to prevent litter and to stop the glass bottles from sitting in landfills unnecessarily when they can be put to good use.

  • Check to see if your state has a "Bottle Bill" first. That is a law that establishes the deposit for beer bottles and other drink containers (such as soda cans). As of 2009, there were 11 states that had bottle bills enacted, and some other states were working on such laws (according to bottlebill.org). If your state doesn't offer cash reimbursement for returned beer bottles, check to see if nearby states do.

  • In most "bottle-bill" states, you can return bottles at the store where you purchased the beer. The bottles are most likely to be accepted for credit at a large beer and wine distributors or grocery stores, as opposed to small convenience stores. Some stores have bottle redemption machines available. Also, ask your local bars (the ones that sell take-out beer) if they accept bottle returns.

  • Find a bottle recycling center in your area. Most will pay you the redemption value listed on the bottle the same way that you would be paid at a store or beer distributor.

  • Bring the bottles to the customer service desk of the store that you chose for redemption. You will either be given a receipt to use toward your next purchase or a cash refund.

  • Even if your state doesn't have a bottle bill, recycling is still easy. You will not be paid for returning your bottles in that way, but it will benefit the town and the environment.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some locations will not accept beer bottles that have lime wedges and other fruit or food inside, so remove those items as soon as you're finished with your drink. Store your empty beer bottles in the original packaging and stack them in a convenient location to take with you on a regular trip to the store or a redemption center. Clean beer bottles with pry-off (rather than twist-off) caps are often sought by homebrewers.

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