Business groups want Michigan bottle return law changed

 Bottle return facilities in Michigan will begin reopening on June 15.
Bottle return facilities in Michigan will begin reopening on June 15. (WJRT)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 1:29 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Most Michiganders at some point have tossed a returnable bottle in the trash.

Maybe it was too beat up for a bottle return machine or it was used as an ashtray or spit holder for those who chew tobacco.

What happens to the deposit on those bottles or cans?

As of right now, the state gets to keep that 10 cents consumers would have earned back on that bottle or can. But businesses are asking for a cut of it.

Special groups, including the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, want the state to share some of the wealth. Right now, $10 million worth of bottles and cans never get returned to Meijer and other stores in Michigan every year.

By law, 75% of that money goes to the state and is passed along to the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund to be spent on preventing pollution and cleaning up environmental hazards. The other 25% goes to stores to help them cover to cost of taking returns.

Business groups want the Legislature to pass bills cutting the state’s share to 50% and giving the money to distributors and to police to stop people from bringing in bottles and cans from other states.

They’re absolutely against any attempt to expand the law so juice, water and other non-carbonated beverage containers could be returned.

“Invest in the system, get the infrastructure built back up and healthy, get fraud under control and then let’s sit down and have a discussion about expansion,” said Spencer Nevins, who is part of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. “But at this point in time, expansion would be a disaster. It would crush the bottle bill. It would actually have the opposite effect of improving it and it would harm it.”

The business groups say the money they’d be taking from the state would be used to improve the infrastructure of Michigan’s bottle return system.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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