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Multiple States Contemplate Removing "Bottle Bills"

Jim Fausone, Esq.

Michigan is one of only ten states to currently have a bottle deposit program, also referred to as a 'bottle bill." With proposed legislation in several states, that short list could get even shorter.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Iowa all have proposed bills that would eliminate the bottle deposit systems and replace it with a tax.

As citizens of Michigan know, the current 'bottle bill' system requires consumers to pay an extra few cents (10 cents per can/bottle in Michigan) that is refunded when they return their cans to a grocery store or redemption center. The purpose of this system is to prevent litter in streets and public places as well as recycle the material used to make the bottles for later use.

The first bottle bill was passed in Oregon in 1971. Michigan's first bottle bill was implemented in 1978.

Advocates of the new, proposed legislation cite that curbside recycling could replace the bottle deposit systems, saving millions of dollar every year. Also, advocates believe that convenience would be beneficial as individuals would be more likely to recycle their cans as they do not need to make a trip to a grocery store to do so.

Although money would be saved by eliminating the current bottle deposit systems, there are many other issues that arise. The most important one is the worry that getting rid of bottle deposit programs would take away the influence of individuals to actually recycle them. Since a return on purchase wouldn't be guaranteed, people would simply throw cans and bottles in the trash instead of in their recycling bins.

Based on the evidence, it seems that states that currently have bottle deposit programs should keep them. Statistics are unconvincing that curbside recycling would increase recycling efforts and the radical change is not worth the loss of jobs or risk of littering our environment.

Thankfully, Michigan is not one of the states that has proposed legislation to remove current bottle bills. Hopefully, it stays that way.

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