Good Question: “Recycling fee” on Walgreens receipts

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Here’s a good question. Am I getting ripped off?

I’m hearing quite a few of those complaints from viewers who shopped at Walgreens recently. If you did too, you might want to check your receipts.

Don told us: “Walgreens has now added a recycling fee on top of the deposit fee for all bottles and cans. I reached out to Walgreens customer service for an answer about the recycling fee and I can’t get an answer.”

Robert told us about the same issue: “Googling ‘Walgreens recycling fee’ shows that Walgreens has done this in other states. What is the law regarding the fee in NY State?”

I started looking into the recycling fee. Here’s a receipt from a customer who went to Walgreens in North Chili this summer. You can see the charge for beer and the automatic bottle deposit totaling $1.50.

Now, look just above that, another $1.50 for a “recycling fee”. That’s five cents per can or bottle on top of the standard five cents required under the New York Bottle Bill.

Bill from this summer with recycling fee
Bill from this summer with recycling fee

I reached out to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to get some answers. The people there told me there’s nothing in the bottle bill regulations concerning ‘recycling fees’.

While stores can charge various types of fees, like service, delivery, or energy charge, businesses should not indicate a “recycling fee” as something required under state law when it isn’t.

I then reached out to staff with the New York State Department. I asked them two things. Is this legal and have any complaints been filed?

The statement I got said nothing about whether it’s legal. They didn’t address that. They did tell me as of this week:

“The NYS Division of Consumer Protection has not received any complaint regarding this issue.  If consumers want to place a complaint call the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm or visit the DCP website.”

It’s not just happening here locally. There are reports of “recycling fee” complaints elsewhere in New York.

There was this story from Franklin Journal in Maine. Walgreens was overcharging customers on bottle deposits three times the amount in state law. The company responded to correct the problem and offered refunds.

I reached out to Walgreens this week for a response to what I’ve heard from people here and that “recycling fee”. A spokesperson said they are looking into it and will get back to me.

If you have a good question that you want us to answer, email Brennan Somers at