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NorthCoast

Michigan's Bottle Law

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I was wondering what some thoughts were out there about the bottle deposit debate occuring in Lansing on whether to expand the law to include non-carbonated beverages or to replace the entire program with the proposed "penny tax." The GR Press had a really good write up about this a couple weeks ago in the Sunday edition. I probably should've posted this a week or so ago but just didn't remember to. I myself was really surprised and dissapointed at the massive lack of funding Michigan's recycling program gets in compared with the rest of the Great Lake states. I can't remember the exact numbers but Michigan funded statewide recycling with only a few hundred thousand dollars a year and Ohio, which is in just as much dire economical straits, was spending in the millions. I'm not the most environmental person, I must admit. My interest in this subject comes for other reasons. Just thought I'd throw it out there.

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I don't have much details on this. But I going to side with expanding the current system, anything eles sound like it would send the bottles to the landfills.

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Expand it.

When the bottle bill took effect in 1978, I noticed an immediate drop in roadside litter. People started hanging onto their ten-centers; their habit of tossing anything and everything out the window was cured.

But now...the shelves at a stop 'n rob are packed with iced tea, bottled water, and other popular drinks lacking a deposit. So the litter is back. One step forward with the fast food places no longer distributing food in those styrofoam coffins. Two steps back thanks to Starbucks and Red Bull and Naive--I mean, Evian.

(When I am elected goddess I'll levy a deposit on coffee cups.)

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Im not a fan of the tax. The only reason people don't see cans on the highway is the 10 cent incentive to bring them in. I, unfortunately, am too lazy to save all the bottled water to bring in for recycling, however, if there was a 10 cent deposit for them as well, I would certainly save them to bring in.

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I think it should be extended to more than just bottles. Certainly not things like cardboard boxes which would be easy to fabricate, but say... soup cans, and other things of that nature. Do beer cans and bottles have deposits? I see a lot of those along country roads and other certain areas as well, and those could definately use a deposit if they don't already.

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I am against expanding the bottle bill and am in favor of the penny tax.

As it stands now, the burden of handling can and bottle returns is falling on the shoulders of a select few, namely Meijer and Spartan Stores (Family Fare, Glen's, D&W, and independent retailers). These places take in far more cans and bottles than they sell. As one of the Press articles pointed out, the smaller mom and pop operations, convenience stores, and gas stations are putting limits on returns (i.e. $3), forcing customers to spend money in the store, etc. (although this is all illegal, but not enforced). Now, if Meijer and Spartan Stores has to begin taking in additional bottles and cans, that is only going to exacerbate the problem.

The penny tax could generate tens of millions of dollars (far more than neighboring states) that could establish excellent recycling programs, recycling programs that could handle the recycling of all sorts of products (beyond what is proposed for the expansion of the bottle bill).

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Would someone please write a capsule description of the penny tax? This is the first I've heard of it.

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Would someone please write a capsule description of the penny tax? This is the first I've heard of it.

Here's the MLive article that explains the "Recycling Makes Cents" or penny tax plan.

I think it should be extended to more than just bottles. Certainly not things like cardboard boxes which would be easy to fabricate, but say... soup cans, and other things of that nature. Do beer cans and bottles have deposits? I see a lot of those along country roads and other certain areas as well, and those could definately use a deposit if they don't already.

Yes, beer cans and bottles definitely have deposits. Pretty much anything with carbonation has a deposit.

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I am 100% for recycling but a little part of me is bummed that I can no longer find sea glass on the shores of Lake Michigan! ;-)

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I am 100% for recycling but a little part of me is bummed that I can no longer find sea glass on the shores of Lake Michigan! ;-)

Yeah, you can. Indiana and Illinois and Wisconsin do not have bottle deposit laws. Try the UP--you can earn big buck$ harvesting ten-centers, as well as find your sea glass.

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it would be sweet to be expanded to all recyclables... the streets would all be clean, maybe they could charge by weight for boxes or other things that do not have def. borders.

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The 2 liter plastic Pepsi bottle I buy at Family fare is the exact same bottle as the 2 liter plastic ice tea bottle I buy a Family Fare. One has a deposit, the other doesn't. One gets returned, the other gets recycled at the curb. What does the bottle's content have to do with it?

Differentiating by contents make no sense at all if the real goal is to actually reduce trash, encourage recycling & reuse, and contribute to a cleaner environment. That IS the goal isn't it?

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I am against expanding the bottle bill and am in favor of the penny tax.

As it stands now, the burden of handling can and bottle returns is falling on the shoulders of a select few, namely Meijer and Spartan Stores (Family Fare, Glen's, D&W, and independent retailers). These places take in far more cans and bottles than they sell. As one of the Press articles pointed out, the smaller mom and pop operations, convenience stores, and gas stations are putting limits on returns (i.e. $3), forcing customers to spend money in the store, etc. (although this is all illegal, but not enforced). Now, if Meijer and Spartan Stores has to begin taking in additional bottles and cans, that is only going to exacerbate the problem.

The penny tax could generate tens of millions of dollars (far more than neighboring states) that could establish excellent recycling programs, recycling programs that could handle the recycling of all sorts of products (beyond what is proposed for the expansion of the bottle bill).

My thoughts exactly. Why should grocery stores take a bigger hit in returns then they already do right now?

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As it stands now, the burden of handling can and bottle returns is falling on the shoulders of a select few, namely Meijer and Spartan Stores (Family Fare, Glen's, D&W, and independent retailers). These places take in far more cans and bottles than they sell. As one of the Press articles pointed out, the smaller mom and pop operations, convenience stores, and gas stations are putting limits on returns (i.e. $3), forcing customers to spend money in the store, etc. (although this is all illegal, but not enforced). Now, if Meijer and Spartan Stores has to begin taking in additional bottles and cans, that is only going to exacerbate the problem.

Um, its my understanding that stores have to give the state the deposit revenue from sales and that they get reimbursed for the returns. Is this not the case?

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Um, its my understanding that stores have to give the state the deposit revenue from sales and that they get reimbursed for the returns. Is this not the case?

Yep, and the beverage industry gets to keep the "lost" deposits (containers that never get redeemed).

The larger stores may take in more than their share of returned containers, but notice how they have the bottle section at the rear of the store...with all the clearance goodies located right there, so if you have a wait for a machine you can stand there and shop. (This is why Fred gives away bags of frozen shrimp every Saturday: get people in the door!)

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Um, its my understanding that stores have to give the state the deposit revenue from sales and that they get reimbursed for the returns. Is this not the case?

Yes, but stores have to use their own labor and store space to take care of the process including cleaning the area, etc.

Its an interesting subject for sure. I like the penny tax concept but then again, bottle return money for me is kind of a treat since I usually throw empties in my car trunk and forget about them for a couple of weeks or something.

Veloise, I've noticed the clearance stuff as well. Even in the stores that have their returns processed in the front will have the "ad" wall right there full of things that I don't really need but impulse buy from time to time like a bag of cookies or juiceboxes.

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Speaking as a non-Meijer grocery employee, I absolutely hate the mess the returning of bottles causes. I am definitely opposed to expanding the current law and even more so in favor of the penny tax. Although I'm not normally a fan of more taxes I think this is a trade worth making.

1)Free market grocery stores should not be in the business of doing the government's job(aside from charging tax...which accompanies death as one of the few certain things in life). If the state wants there to be deposits on bottles in order for them to be recycled, then the state should be responsible for taking care of its own business and not forcing the job upon someone else.

2)If people really do actually care about the money they get from the deposit than they certainly wouldn't care about having to drive a few minutes further to regional recycling center (public or private) to receive their money. This idea would also create new job opportunities. If people really cared about recycling a little raise in tax to fund greater efforts would be welcomed.

3)Bottle trash has no place being in the same building where the public is buying their food. I've seen it all; dead animals, insects, gasoline, urine, fecal matter, unindentified bodily fluids, dirt, grime, slime, dust, cigarettes, spit, and billions upon billions of tiny germs, bacteria, and viruses(mononucleosis anyone?). Why should this bother you? Well besides the many terrorist possibilties(anthrax or ebola anyone?), the next time you grab a cart at the store; I would say that there is a fairly good chance that day someone has dumped bags full of bottles into that cart without any liner or anything in it. All those things mentioned above will now be indirectly/directly in contact with whatever you put into that cart from your fresh produce to your own children!

4)The processing of these bottles is a time consuming and expensive. Under busy conditions at most mid-sized supermarkets it can take up to 45 minutes to have to cap, move, build, and replace backroom storage bins. Taking away personal who could be performing task which is helping the store to actually make money. The cost comes from not so much in what the store is paying out in slips but the cost to buy the machines, performing the necessary maintenance on them, renting the storage bins(which are out of customer view in backrooms), and hiring a company to come and pick them up. Customers are ultimately the ones who pay for this inconvenience and excess cost through cuts in service and higher prices to help stores cover these operating cost.

5)Every year labor laws for minors become greater and greater. Most of the baggers who work at these supermarkets are under the age of 18. In the past 5 years there have been more restrictions barring minors from interacting with reverse vending machines. Most people who are authorized to perform all necessary functions are over the age of 18 and have bigger responsibilities. This slows down the bottle processing process even more and causes and even greater inconvenience and bigger disruption now more than ever. Occupational hazards such as muscle strain from repetitive heavy lifting of bins, exposed razor sharp shards of glass, and bees/wasps/hornets accumulating at outside storage spots(not a big factor...unless you're allergic to them) are also factors.

6)The space which reverse vending machines and all the the behind the scene storage takes up prevents a store from maximizing its potential opportunities for profit. Reverse vending machines take up floor space where goods and merchandise could be displayed because as the old theory goes if it isn't on the floor, it isn't going to sell. The backroom storage bins take up valuable space which grocerers could use to store extra backstock items. So the next time the store is out of something, maybe you should think to yourself...if only those bottle bins weren't taking up space they could have more of what I was looking for in back.

7)The state government and all Michiganders should be embarrassed by the recycling efforts that are currently in place. It is easy to point to the bottle law and claim success but it's all a huge masquerade. There are fewer bottles around but the trash is still there in abundance. What is the state going to do next...charge a deposit on cigarette butts or fast food bags? Its pretty sad when people will only recycle in return for money. Wasn't the entire 'earth day' movement about recycling centered around doing it because its the right thing to do?

8)If any environmentalist or anyone else for that matter tells me the "small" inconvenience is worth it. I urge them to come down from their comfy, plush offices and ivory towers and actually walk a few miles in the shoes of those who have to deal with it on a daily basis and see what a "small inconvenience" it really is.

Come on Michigan, be honest with yourself. You can do a lot better.

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1)Free market grocery stores should not be in the business of doing the government's job(aside from charging tax...which accompanies death as one of the few certain things in life). If the state wants there to be deposits on bottles in order for them to be recycled, then the state should be responsible for taking care of its own business and not forcing the job upon someone else.

3)Bottle trash has no place being in the same building where the public is buying their food. I've seen it all; dead animals, insects, gasoline, urine, fecal matter, unindentified bodily fluids, dirt, grime, slime, dust, cigarettes, spit, and billions upon billions of tiny germs, bacteria, and viruses(mononucleosis anyone?). Why should this bother you? Well besides the many terrorist possibilties(anthrax or ebola anyone?), the next time you grab a cart at the store; I would say that there is a fairly good chance that day someone has dumped bags full of bottles into that cart without any liner or anything in it. All those things mentioned above will now be indirectly/directly in contact with whatever you put into that cart from your fresh produce to your own children!

Yes, and yes. I worked in a non meijer store bottleroom doing things "the old way" and this brings back memories. Having to handle these returnables was a nightmare. :sick:

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Yes, and yes. I worked in a non meijer store bottleroom doing things "the old way" and this brings back memories. Having to handle these returnables was a nightmare. :sick:

I forgot to mention the overall bad stench of it all too. Plus in my store the machines are right up in the front foyer, close to the check out lanes. On really busy days, you almost have to yell to talk to eachother because of all the grinding! My store was designed well before the days of reverse vending machines and even before the bottle law itself. I think its not right to tell a store/company to spend millions of dollars to renovate just to accomodate the laziness of government.

I worked at a store in Kalmazoo for a while that didn't have the machines and I as well had to do it the old fashioned way. You either had people who would just bring in bags and not even bother counting them or people telling you a number that was way higher than what they actually had and you always had to count them "just to make sure."

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Hardings in Wayland actually has the machines in the front lobby thing... you know how there's those two sets of doors, they're between those two so you can return them without actually setting foot into the store itself.

I don't recall any advertisements in that area for on-sale items. They might be there, but if they are then I guess they aren't visible enough for me to notise =p

But I guess they make up for it in the fact that it's the only real supermarket left in Wayland. They ended up putting the rite-aid there out of business after building the new store and now that's a dollar general.

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Um, its my understanding that stores have to give the state the deposit revenue from sales and that they get reimbursed for the returns. Is this not the case?
75% of unredeemed deposit money goes to the state and 25% goes to retailers to help defray the cost of bottle returns. Meijer points out that this only covers 20% of their costs. Probably about the same for Spartan Stores and other large retailers, I suppose.

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The larger stores may take in more than their share of returned containers, but notice how they have the bottle section at the rear of the store...with all the clearance goodies located right there, so if you have a wait for a machine you can stand there and shop.
Actually, all of the Family Fares I've been in have the returns section at the front of the store. And, the newest Meijers and Family Fares have a special returns section at the front of the store where product for sale isn't even visible.

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...

3)Bottle trash ...dead animals, insects, gasoline, urine, fecal matter, unindentified bodily fluids, dirt, grime, slime, dust, cigarettes, spit, and billions upon billions of tiny germs, bacteria, and viruses(mononucleosis anyone?).

... terrorist possibilties(anthrax or ebola anyone?),

...All those things mentioned above will now be indirectly/directly in contact with whatever you put into that cart from your fresh produce to your own children!

...

This reads like boilerplate from the beverage industry. Don't forget the pathetic feeble seniors who struggle to totter in with heavy bags of returnables.

[lived in Montana in 1980-81 where out-of-state referendum advertising provided a clean new industry]

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75% of unredeemed deposit money goes to the state and 25% goes to retailers to help defray the cost of bottle returns. Meijer points out that this only covers 20% of their costs. Probably about the same for Spartan Stores and other large retailers, I suppose.

You're right, according to michigan.gov:

"The Michigan Bottle Deposit Law escheat (unclaimed deposits that revert to the state) is

collected by Treasury. Seventy-five percent of the money is deposited into the Cleanup and

Redevelopment Trust Fund (Trust Fund), created in 1996 PA 384, and 25 percent is returned to

the retailers. Of the 75 percent deposited in the Trust Fund, 80 percent is deposited into the

Cleanup and Redevelopment Fund, 10 percent is deposited into the Community Pollution

Prevention Fund, and 10 percent remains in the Trust Fund. The Trust Fund continues to

collect the 10 percent per year until a maximum of $200 million is met."

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