State lawmaker proposes end to bottle deposits would boost recycling

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There's a bill in Lansing that could end the returnable law in Michigan.

Joe Bellino, a state representative from Monroe, said the bottle bill helped to reduce litter of cans of pop and beer in the 1980s and '90s but he claims that it's now hurting recycling.

"We need to incentivize recycling," said Bellino. "We think because we have the bottle bill, we do a great job with recycling. But when we look at the stats, we stink around the Midwest and nationally when it comes to total recycling."

The 10 cents back every time you return a carbonized beverage container to the store has been around for 42 years.

Bellino says that ending the bottle deposit law would boost community recycling programs.

“The bottle bill pulls the two most valuable materials – aluminum and PET plastic – away from community-based recycling systems,” Bellino said. “Rerouting these materials into local recycling programs would provide the boost recyclers need to sustain their programs and expand access to even more communities.”

Bellino added that the current recycling system only captures 2% of our waste. He says it costs more and generates less revenue than traditional recycling programs.

“It’s time to do away with this outdated program and focus on comprehensive community recycling programs that are better for Michigan families, businesses and our environment.”

Other groups believe the recycling deposit law has been a tremendous incentive for people to recycle.

"In fact, 3.5 billion containers and nearly 450 million pounds of glass, aluminum, and plastic bottles (PET) are diverted from landfills and recycled annually as a direct result of our deposit law," Thomas B. Emmerich, COO of Schupan & Sons, Inc., states in an article published in Michigan Food News magazine in July 2018.

Emmerich states that many curbside and single-stream recycling programs that include glass result in lower quality materials.

"... (T)he value of the aluminum and PET can be reduced by as much as 20% due to contamination" in those systems, he said.

The proposal states that the bottle deposit law would end on Dec. 31, 2022. Anyone who purchases a product with a deposit before that date would have three years to return the container for a refund by using the previous bottle return system.

The legislation is headed to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee for consideration.