Why Michigan’s Bottle Deposit Law Sucks and What to Do About it.

13 thoughts on “Why Michigan’s Bottle Deposit Law Sucks and What to Do About it.”

  1. The deposit law is highly effective, MI has a 97% return rate. More containers are recycled in the 10 deposit states than in the other 40 states combined and litter is reduced. Deposit programs are widely popular with the public for these reasons and because they reduce cost to local government and tax payers. You’re going to pay one way or another for costs involved with recycling or disposal and litter cleanup, so you might as well pay a REFUNDABLE deposit (not a tax) as part of a program that works well. Some changes, as you suggest, could be made, but repealing the law would be a mistake. What about giving your containers you can’t redeem to a charity?

  2. Repeal the bottle deposit law? Why? Because you are slightly inconvenienced? The bottle deposit is probably one of the best things about living in Michigan!

    I grew up dirt poor. The bottle deposit law probably saved my entire family from starvation and freezing to death in the winter. Those too lazy to take their bottles back or not willing to make the extra effort to find a store that would redeem the bottles is a windfall to the poor.

    We go through the trash and collect these treasures. 3,500 bottles later and you have most of your bills for a month paid! I’m serious!

    If you really feel this passionate about repealing Michigan’s most effective recycling and employment law, please take a trip through the poorest parts of Flint and Detroit first. Tell a homeless man to his face that you’re going to take away his only source of income. You can’t even panhandle in Detroit anymore!

    Please, think of the poor and under-privileged before pursuing this any further. We need this law to survive. You need this law to enjoy the clean beaches, lakes, rivers, and forests of Michigan.

  3. First off, keep in mind that energy isn’t the only thing to consider. There is the raw materials to think of. Each plastic bottle sitting in a landfill means less oil available for other things. Aluminum = more needs to be mined, etc.

    I say we should combine positive aspects of the bottle bills in various states to create an “Interstate Recycling Association”. My vision is informed by experience in Michigan and California. I have not yet investigated the situation in New England and other areas. Here is what I would propos:

    – Redemption is handled by independent entrepreneurial computers (like NexCycle and RePlanet in California). Michigan retailers could be well situated in this respect, able to easily have their own recycling business or sell / lease their equipment and space to other companies. They should set their own competitive prices with the state providing a certain “subsidized minimum” to make sure enough people consider it worth the time/effort to recycle.

    – To the extent possible, all “containers of compatible composition” should be treated equally. No more special exemptions for wine and hard liquor (California), or water and certain other non-carbonated beverages (Michigan). People who want to recycle shouldn’t have to hunt around for their state’s mark or perform some triage.

    – Each state can decide how they want to collect revenue for the program. California and Michigan could keep their current deposit setup. Other states could use some sort of tax or $ from their general fund, or whatever. Some measure of containers distributed and recycled in the state can be used to help set prices and such.

    – States contribute money to an interstate fund (to eliminate or at least reduce fraud by crossing state lines as an issue). Representatives from all interested parties (states, recyclers, citizen groups, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, whoever) determine how to equitably apportion the funds. Yes, this is the tricky step that I haven’t yet fully worked out ;).

  4. From TEN CENTS, to TRASH! Broken Can & Bottle Return Machines, that have to be shut down for expensive repairs! The unsanitary conditions of everyone’s saliva mixed with the unconsumed soda pop & beer–and flowing all over the floor, from in the return room to right behind in the maintenance room! The hazardous metal & glass in the heavy bins that have to changed by the minute, and moved via pallet jacks & forklifts! What is that dime really getting you? I’m putting my empty Towne Clubs at the curb for regular recycling!

    1. Bottle deposits are in place around the world, including many countries in Europe, they work. It’s the most effective way to increase recycling & reduce litter. In the US, ten states have deposit programs and these states recycle more containers than the other 40 states combined! In MI, the return rate is 96%! This is more than three times the recycling rate in other states. Learn more at bottlebill.org

      1. Return fees we do get a lot of GARBAGE! People emptying litter from their cars and bringing in stuff that does NOT have a Deposit/Return does not justify this practice as much as suddenly introduce health and safety hazards to a system that is otherwise for the most part used sensibly!

        — Dave

  5. With advance in Plasma Incineration glass, aluminum, plastic, and steel can be converted to Syn gas and provide us with gas for our homes and industry. Kill the bottle bill the return process is unsanitary and the risk of health is an issue. Who knows what ends up in an empty bottle?

  6. CHAD: Does that homeless man have access to water & soap to wash those cans & bottles he finds to make the waste left in them more bearable? Is the lady on the corner who is holding the cardboard “Will Work For Food” sign & given the bottles and cans able to find a specific store that will take them should they be a Private Label redeemable via a certain retailer? A good source of income (and my dad will go as far as to scrounge around The Great Lakes State’s Gold Mines, as well!) to the point where the teens coming in (too good to do REAL WORK as I did when I was their age sorting this stuff by HAND!) do make a profit, but things add up & subtract themselves enough that this practice just simply needs to be rethought & re-evaluated a little… There are just as many other other raw materials out there, unfortunately unable to enjoy the benefits (as well as benefit the many others) a means of being recycled! ie. containers that DON’T have any sort of Deposit/Return fee often accidentally thrown in w/ the “regulation containers” or simply containers discarded along our landscapes & roadways that are simply “lost” bottles & cans, (WITH the Deposit fee)or rather mindless landfill waste that will never evolve into something more useful, whether viewed from an ecological or economical perspective…

  7. Dave, you kinda rambled there and it was difficult to discern your point. To address the items that were legible; why would the homeless man bother to wash the bottles? If the UPC code is readable, he makes his dime. If he’s returning it where they don’t use machines for returns or if they require the bottles to be clean, most places that sell beverages have soap and water. Walmart even has large sinks in the bottle return area, with soap dispensers and paper towels, for public use.

    Why would anyone give the lady with the cardboard “Will Work For Food” sign private label bottles? Any reason other than to be a colossal douche? You give her food, like the sign says. If you have work she can do in exchange for food, you do that.

    We’re talking about the most successful recycling program in the state. So what if a few cans go unredeemed? So what if a few unreturnable items get mixed in? The massive amount of returns clean up our state and benefit those willing to put the effort in.

    Scrounging around gold mines isn’t exactly on the same level as living off of bottle returns. You’re comparing a profitable hobby of panning to dumpster diving for survival. The current deposit on cans is only a burden on two types of people: those too lazy to return them and sick of paying the deposit, and those in the beverage industry who are looking for a scapegoat to blame their woes on.

    If anything, we should take Bill Landis’ idea and make all states charge deposit on recyclable bottles, carbonated and non. Have no store be able to refuse to take them, no more private label unreturnable bottles. Rather than demolishing what we have that works so well, we should consider expanding it. Maybe that would encourage more frugal individuals to drink from fountain beverages and taps, cutting down on waste by getting them to switch away from bottled beverages altogether.

  8. Oops, I did get too rambly there; I’m sorry… My sole point is this: the unclean containers is a Sanitary Issue… However, to make the effort to sanitize bottles & cans merely makes a bubble in the ecological system meaning the water used to have to clean the containers, hence they’re more bearable in the system that crushes them (and remember I had a job where I sorted this by hand) and there’s left filth in the boxes & bags used to carry them in which really just go in the regular trash… (Then again, who wants to handle equally unsanitary unused dishwater?) Well, I hopefully cleared some of my logic up… Just that my curb side recycling I think is enough that I would rather put all my recyclables there, to the point that I’ve shunned buying beer & pop and anything carbonated if it means partaking in a rather futile system…

  9. Here in California the collection centers for containers are magnets for vagrants who urinate in front of businesses, and drug dealers. Also people go through neighborhoods at night and make a mess. Collection centers also are buying copper and stolen metal. They are disgusting areas with no housekeeping in many cities. Someone needs to do a carbon footprint study on curbside collection vs. bottle bill drop off. The bottle bill may have made sense 30 years ago before the vast majority of residents had access to curbside recycling. REPEAL THE BOTTLE BILL

    1. I’m glad someone here–and in another state, yet–agrees! It’s the maintenance of these collection centers in both efforts, and monetary costs, that greatly offset and outweigh any sort of earthly benefits… I’ll just simply say, here is yet more proof, in this theory of contributing to a REAL Green Effect of Recycling, in curbside recycling, that “Charity begins at Home!”…

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