task force offers proposals to increase recycling
By Kathy Barks Hoffmand
The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. -- Plastic water bottles would have to
be recycled and Michigan residents could see slightly
higher trash disposal fees if recommendations from a state
Senate task force are adopted.
The report by the Michigan Beverage Container and Recycling
Task Force does not recommend expanding the state's current
bottle deposit law to other containers at this time, however.
Instead, it recommends setting up two regional recycling
centers as pilot projects and increasing overall recycling
efforts. The regional recycling centers could be a step
toward allowing grocery stores to get out of the business
of serving as bottle redemption centers.
The task force wants to increase household and commercial
garbage disposal fees by $3 per ton, allowing the state
to raise about $50 million to help local recycling programs.
The cost, if passed along to consumers, would be no more
than "the cost of a gallon of milk and a loaf of
bread a year," task force chairman Cameron Brown
said during a news conference Wednesday at which the report
The Republican senator from Sturgis added that Michigan
now ranks 28th nationally with a recycling rate of about
20 percent, the lowest percentage among neighboring Great
Lakes states and far lower than New Jersey's recycling
rate of more than 50 percent. He'd like to make the state
That goal is shared by Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema,
"Michigan has one of the lowest recycling rates
in the country, and to me, that's unacceptable,"
Sikkema said. By adopting the task force's recommendations,
"Michigan can recapture the environmental leadership
of the country."
Sam Washington of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs,
one of the groups that helped get Michigan's original
1976 bottle bill enacted, endorsed the task force's report.
"If they're followed through on, it will indeed
be a great step forward," he said.
Michigan's bottle deposit bill, passed by voters in 1976,
imposes a 10-cent deposit on soft drink, beer, malt beverage
and wine cooler containers. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and
environmental groups have supported expanding it to other
beverages such as bottled water and iced tea.
But bottlers and the Michigan Grocers Association have
opposed expanding the law, which would require grocers
to handle even more returnable bottles. On Wednesday,
Mary Dechow of the Michigan Recycling Partnership, which
represents grocers, endorsed the report.
The ban on putting plastic water bottles into landfills
wouldn't be implemented until a way to recycle the bottles
was in place, said Sen. Patricia Birkholz, R-Saugatuck.
She said the plastic bottles are on the list to be banned
because a market already exists to recycle them into other
The report also suggests creating a state Recycling Advisory
Council and offering tax incentives for businesses that
use more recycled materials.