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Consumer News Release

For immediate release - Thursday, January 6, 2005.
UPDATE JAN 13: Fareway replies to AG -- see end.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699

Attorney General to Fareway: Accept Bottles and Cans Unless There is an Approved Alternative Redemption Center

DES MOINES. The Attorney General's Office has sent a letter to Fareway Stores, Inc., advising the corporation that many of its grocery stores are violating the Iowa Beverage Container Law by refusing to accept and pay refunds on beverage containers where no alternative redemption center has been approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

"It's the law, and it's clear," said Attorney General Tom Miller. "The law requires Fareway -- and any other store that sells beverages -- to accept beverage containers and pay the refund to customers until there is an approved redemption center.

"Citizens who pay beverage container deposits are entitled to return those containers to the grocery store and receive a refund of the deposit," Miller said.

The letter to Fareway from Assistant Attorney General David Sheridan, head of the Attorney General's Environmental Law Division, asks Fareway to immediately cease refusing to accept and pay refunds on beverage containers for redemption where there is no DNR order approving an alternative redemption center. The letter asks Fareway to confirm compliance by providing the Attorney General with a copy of a corporate directive requiring each store to comply and to post notice to their customers that beverage containers will be accepted and refunds will be paid unless an alternative redemption center is approved. The letter was issued Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The letter says the Attorney General's Office is prepared to file a lawsuit seeking an injunction if Fareway fails to comply.

The Attorney General's Office contacted Fareway at the request of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for administering the Beverage Container Law. The letter noted that the DNR has attempted unsuccessfully since November 2004 to bring Fareway into compliance.

Numerous citizen complaints have been received by the DNR, by several county attorneys offices, including Black Hawk, Cerro Gordo and Story Counties, and by the Attorney General's Office concerning the refusal of Fareway stores to accept and redeem beverage containers as required by law.

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Update Jan. 13 on bottle and can redemption issue:

The Attorney General’s Office received a letter today (Jan. 13) from Mr. Robert L. Cramer, President of Fareway Stores, Inc. In a letter to Asst. Attorney General David Sheridan, head of the AG’s Environmental Law Division, Mr. Cramer said, “We have issued a directive to all stores, pending the receipt of DNR state approval, to redeem Iowa deposit containers.”

Mr. Cramer enclosed a copy of a bulletin to stores which said: “Please redeem all Iowa deposit marked items from customers until you are in receipt of certification by the DNR to use a designated redemption center.” The bulletin to stores asked stores to post signs on their front doors as of Monday Jan. 10 about the change in practice, if they had stopped redeeming containers without an approved alternative redemption center.

The Attorney General's Office sent a letter to Fareway on Jan. 4 advising the corporation that many of its grocery stores were violating the Iowa Beverage Container Law by refusing to accept and pay refunds on beverage containers where no alternative redemption center has been approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Sheridan said that Fareway now appears to be in compliance with the law, and Mr. Cramer’s letter resolves the matter at this time.

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