LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - State Rep. Beau LaFave has introduced legislation as part of a new plan to provide a much-needed boost to community recycling programs by ending Michigan’s 40-year-old bottle deposit law.
LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said although the “bottle bill” helped reduce litter in the 1980s and 90s, it’s now hurting recycling. At just 15 percent, Michigan’s residential recycling rate is one of the lowest in the nation.
“Aluminum and PET plastic are being pulled out of the recycling stream by our bottle deposit system,” LaFave said. “Without these valuable materials, it is difficult for recyclers to sustain programs in communities throughout the Upper Peninsula.”
Under the plan, the state’s bottle deposit law would end on Dec. 31, 2022. People who purchase a product with a deposit before that date would have three years to return the container for a refund through the old bottle return system.
Prior to the repeal, additional money from unclaimed deposits would be directed into local recycling programs, including support for recycling carts, education and material sorting facilities.
In addition to hindering community recycling programs, LaFave said the outdated bottle deposit system puts an unnecessary burden on local businesses, which face labor costs as well as problems recouping money when people return cans purchased across the border in Wisconsin.
“It really adds up. Some locally owned grocery stores shell out tens of thousands of dollars from fraudulent bottle returns every year,” LaFave said. “This is money they could be reinvesting in our community, but instead it gets tied up in a months-long bureaucratic reimbursement process.
“Phasing the bottle bill out would remove this pressure from local stores and allow us to focus on more inclusive recycling programs that are better for Michigan families, the economy and our environment.”
The legislation, House Bills 6532-36, has been referred to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee for consideration.