Keg Deposits Up to $30 To Combat Keg Theft

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

On a Friday night, people are quick to pick up a half-barrel keg from the local party store.

Turns out, they're not so quick to return them.

"We've heard from our wholesalers, and certainly from the brewers, that a number of kegs are disappearing from the marketplace," says Michael Lashbrook, president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.

Until Friday, kegs only required a $10 deposit, and many people were finding it more lucrative to sell the kegs to scrap metal yards than to return them.

Now, brewers are hoping a new $30 deposit law in Michgan will compel people to bring the expensive barrels back.

"The $10 we're charging just doesn't seem to match up," says Doug Barr, vice president of M&M Beer Distributors in Lansing.

"What we're discovering is we're missing anywhere from 100 to 300 barrels any given year, and at $85 a barrel, it's costing our distributors a lot of money," he says.

Scrap metal yards often pay around $30 for a keg. But if a person has already paid a $30 deposit, selling the kegs will be fruitless.

"There needs to be the financial incentive for those to come back," Lashbrook says.

Not only are customers having to pay extra for the deposit on the kegs--because of the business changes, they may soon be paying more for the beer in the kegs, too.

"I'm sure there might be some price increases. If people have to tie up more resources, they'll pass that on to consumers," Barr says.

But he adds that as long as people return the barrels, keg beer should remain an inexpensive staple for Friday night festivities.

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