Why Does Michigan Have a Bottle Deposit Anyway?
Michigan's ten cent bottle deposit has been around longer than I've been alive. It's one of the many unique features that sets us Michiganders apart from all the other 50 states! With Michigan having the highest bottle deposit in the U.S., have you ever taken the time to wonder why we even have it in the first place?
I have a bone to pick with Michigan's bottle deposit. I have spent the last seven years living in the Midwest where no such deposit exists. Despite being far away from the nearest bottle return, throughout those seven years I still found myself setting aside any carbonated beverage container just like I'd been trained to do my entire life. It's a hard habit to break! I cannot stress enough how absolutely wrong it felt to toss a returnable bottle or can in the trash.
Throughout my travels across the Heartland the majority of residents I came in contact with had never even heard of a bottle deposit and found the entire concept to be quite puzzling. Honestly, I used to brag to my new-found friends about how awesome the bottle deposit was because it helped to eliminate litter, encouraged recycling, and if you drink enough pop you can buy an entirely new 12-pack once you gather enough returnables!
However, now that I've returned home I find myself quite annoyed with Michigan's bottle deposit. I constantly forget that each time I buy a carbonated beverage I have to add an additional 10 cents to the purchase price. If you're buying a 12-pack that's an additional $1.20 to your price tag! I'm a girl on a budget and sometimes that additional deposit can make all the difference. In my opinion, I think retailers should list the price with the deposit included just like they do with gasoline.
Michigan Beverage Container Act
On November 2, 1976 the "Bottle Bill" was passed by Michigan voters. At the time, the littering of bottles and cans was a big problem not only in Michigan, but across the entire United States. Lawmakers figured Michiganders would be more likely to recycle if there was a monetary incentive and they were right! The bill not only promoted recycling, but it also created jobs at local recycling plants. As of 2020, the State of Michigan reports that 73% of all bottles and cans are returned.
Is the Bottle Bill Outdated?
Many have called for a deposit reform in recent years with some saying the 10 cent bottle deposit needs to be eliminated altogether! At the start of the new year, Governor Whitmer signed into law a new bill cracking down on bottle return fraud. Violators who bring returnable bottles from outside of Michigan across state lines with intent to collect a return deposit could now face a felony charge punishable between five and twenty years in prison, meaning it's not worth it to have your own Seinfeld moment!
What do you think: Do you like Michigan's bottle deposit policy?