Task force looks at ways to increase
With no plans to raise deposits, state suggests curbside
pickup, drop-off sites
By Gitte Laasby
Capital News Service
LANSING -- Michigan won't see deposits on containers for
water, iced tea and other noncarbonated drinks any time
soon, but legislators suggest curbside pickup and drop-off
centers as alternative ways to increase bottle recycling
A proposal to expand Michigan's 27-year-old bottle deposit
law was dropped by the Senate Republican Task Force, which
reviewed recycling efforts and their effects on consumers,
businesses and the environment.
"The task force recommends that the Beverage Container
Law not be expanded to include any additional containers
at this time, due to the belief that the current system
places too many burdens on dealers and distributors that
need to be remediated before implementing any expansion,"
the report said.
Under the current law, only containers for soft drinks,
carbonated water and certain alcoholic drinks are returnable.
"We feel that there are some problems with the current
beverage container law insofar as the cost being borne
by business," said Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Fawn River
Township, who chaired the task force.
"And we think there's a way to increase recycling
through programs such as we have recommended and keep
the current beverage law as is."
Other members of the task force are Sens. Patricia Birkholz
of Saugatuck, Michael Bishop of Rochester, Alan Cropsey
of DeWitt, Jud Gilbert of Algonac and Wayne Kuipers of
Brown said the task force is looking at establishing
redemption centers to increase recycling as well as "some
reimbursement to businesses such as grocery stores who
have borne, unduly, the burden of implementing the current
"The task force believes that there are more cost-effective
ways to increase recycling," the report said.
Michigan currently recycles 20 percent of its waste,
the lowest rate among the Great Lakes states. New Jersey,
with 53 percent, recycles the most of any state.
Another alternative to expanding bottle deposits is curbside
pickup, a program Brown said local governments are reluctant
to start because there has been no financial assistance
The task force recommended establishing a $3 dumping
fee per ton of waste to create a Recycling Works! Fund
totaling $50 million.
The fund would provide grants to local governments to
start recycling programs and offset tax incentives given
to businesses to recycle products or create a recycling
The Michigan United Conservation Clubs supports many
of the recommendations of the task force, specifically
the fee proposal.
"If the $3 fee bill moves, we believe that'll go
a long way to reduce the amount of bottles and cans and
litter there is in the state," said MUCC policy specialist
Stine said the organization would have liked to see an
expansion of the bottle law but that "it looks like
that's not going to happen right now. We're still looking
at that opportunity, but it's not something we're working
on immediately. When you work in the legislative process,
you work for what is possible a lot of the time, not what's
The cornerstone bill creating a Recycling Advisory Committee
to oversee recycling programs and performance has already
The report also proposed establishing two regional pilot
redemption centers as alternatives to bottle returns at
grocery stores. Where the centers will be located and
whether they will accept newspaper and plastics is not