The Michigan Bottle Deposit Law Could Be Expanding

I’ve always wondered why we in Michigan pay a 10 cent deposit on soft drink bottles – and as I understand, beer cans — but not on bottled water or other non-carbonated beverages.  If it’s a good law, then it shouldn’t discriminate a container based solely on its contents.

Well, the Michigan United Conversation Clubs, with its 50,000 members, wants to expand the landmark 1976 Michigan law to include water bottles and other currently omitted beverage containers.  Their rational is that 97% of pop and beer containers are recycled, whereas only 20% of water bottles are.  Requiring a deposit on them will boost that percentage, keeping millions out of the landfills.  That sounds like a great idea.

Unfortunately, it would also put greater pressure on the outlets and their bottle return system, which would need to be expanded.  Plus this would be a new challenge for the bottled water distributors who would need to establish a means to deal with the returns.  (I’m not really sure of the bottle return logistics, but someone has to deal with it, right?)

Given that Michigan’s economic situation has not been good for several years and is getting worse, this may not be a good time to expand the deposit requirement as it will hurt consumers.

However, this might be an opportunity to make another tweak to the bill as well.  If the deposit law is expanded, why not lower the amount to 5 cents, matching many other states?  (ie: Connecticut, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Hawaii.)  This would serve to minimize the impact on the consumer, while still accomplishing the desired effect.

How about it Michigan lawmakers, are you with me on this?  Or too focused on getting re-elected to bother?

What do you think? Please leave a comment!