House Bill 5306, which would expand the 10-cent bottle deposit program in Michigan to include all noncarbonated beverages except milk, was referred to the Committee on Regulator Reform on Dec. 19.
Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), the bill’s sponsor, called it a “sweeping set of modernization” to the existing bottle deposit program.
Hoadley said it was exciting that the bill was supported when it was launched. The Farm Bureau, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and Michigan League of Conservation Voters all back the proposal, Hoadley said.
“When the Farm Bureau is supporting the bill it really tells you something,” Hoadley told the Kalamazoo Times.
The current law applies only to carbonated drinks, beer, ale, or other malt drink of whatever alcoholic content; or a mixed wine drink or a mixed spirit drink, according to Michigan.gov.
Other elements to House Bill 5306 include universal redemption, increased funding for recycling programs, and decreasing fraud.
Currently, bottles can only be cashed in at places that sell the same product. Under the proposal, all large stores would have to accept the bottles.
“Some of the smallest stores had concerns that they wouldn’t be able to deal with the increased bottles and take-backs, so we made exceptions to them,” Hoadley said.
Increased funds from expanding the bottle program would allow the state to invest more in the recycling program.
“People need to see that we are being responsible stewards of the earth,” said Hoadley.
The extra money would also be used to pay for audits and fraud enforcement.
The current program began in 1976 as a way to reduce litter and was successful, and consumers have cashed in. Hoadley said 90 percent of the bottles are returned.
Michigan is just one of 10 states with a beverage container deposit law.
Some critics have concerns about applying a deposit to bottled water, Hoadley said, but there’s a bigger picture to focus on.
“I would say we need to and improve all of our water systems across the state," he said. "We have to deal with our environmental issues."