Michigan’s bottle and can returns plummet, state slides to #2 in recycling rankings

The State Treasury said consumers are losing approximately $100 million a year in refunds.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Fewer people are taking their returnable bottles and cans back for the money. In fact, so many that the state has dropped from number one in the country to number two when it comes to beverage container recycling.

“The decline since the post-pandemic has been really disappointing for the recycling industry,” said Shayna Schupan Barry.

Before the pandemic, more than 90% of Michiganders returned their cans and bottles, making our state tops in recycling. Now that number has dropped to 75%.

“It’s kind of been a culture of Michigan to return our bottles and cans,” said Schupan Barry.

Shayna Schupan Barry works with Schupan Recycling. Since 1978, Michigan has collected a 10-cent deposit for every bottle or can that is purchased. That deposit is refunded when you return those cans and bottles to the store to be recycled.

During the pandemic, some places put recycling services on hold. Dennis Jenkins continued to bring in his recyclables.

“For me, it helps the same way. It does all other citizens, in general, it’s better use of the money,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins said before the bill, he remembers there being trash on almost every street. He said recycling leads to less money being spent on cleaning up trash and keeping cans and bottles out of landfills.

“It really just comes down to consumers. Take them back, they’re your bottles and cans your environment. It’s your dimes,” said Schupan Barry.

Dimes that add up and the State Treasury said consumers are losing approximately $100 million a year in refunds.

“It’s cleaner it’s healthier and all the way around it’s better for everybody,” said Jenkins.

You can bring back your bottles and cans to any store that sells them. Going forward, there is talk about increasing the bottle deposit incentive.

It is against the law for a retailer not to accept bottle deposits. If you find a store not accepting returns, you can reach out to the attorney general’s office and file a complaint.

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