Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bottle deposit law sucks

Does anyone like Michigan's bottle deposit law?

Oh sure, it does keep the litter down. And it does provide a source of income to retired and homeless persons. And it is a wonderful fundraiser for charitable groups.

But is this the best we can do?

Stores hate it. It is expensive and messy -- and probably has contributed to the demise of small grocers.

Manufacturers hate it. It undoubtedly contributes to the lack of competition in beverages. Think about the economic chances for a microbrew when the bottles are accepted only at the point of purchase?

Consumers hate it. Ever see anyone having fun feeding their cans and bottles into those machines?

And the worst is that you must return the store brands to the store where you bought them.

The whole thing is based on old technology.

We do have bar codes here. Can't we at least change the law so that all stores take all containers? And transfer the payments based on bar code readings? And recycle the plastic and aluminum closer to the points of return?

This would be in the spirit of the original law. How many times have you had some off brand bottle rejected by the machine and just toss it into the refuse bin?

Maybe it will put some spark into the economy by promoting new business and new competition. Maybe even inspire people to litter less? Might.

2 Comments:

OpenID jdgutc said...

My parents and I were just talking about this last weekend, questioning why water bottles aren't included in the deposit bottles now. It seems like far more of them are thrown to the wayside than the depositable bottles are and just about everyone drinks out of them. (Are more people drinking water from bottles than pop now?)

After a little research, I found out why many people don't like it (reasons you stated above), but stats I found from an '08 article about this are interesting and, if they're accurate, have me questioning what would happen if there wasn't a deposit on anything.

"Despite the 97 percent recycle rate the bottle law currently achieves, Michigan only recycles 20 percent of non-deposit containers, throwing away and littering 1.12 billion non-degradable containers each year."
http://www.bottlebill.org/news/articles/2008/MI-11-12-MichigansNeed-op.htm

June 15, 2011 at 9:20 AM 
OpenID a4e1b7fc-9787-11e0-a2a3-000bcdcb2996 said...

Deposit states recycle 70-95% of returnable containers, compared to less than 30% in non-deposit states. Infact half of the containers recycled in the US come from the 10 deposit states, the other 40 states recycling the other half. Wow. Litter is also reduced. Most people care about the environment and recycling, and don't care about the "inconvenience." Personally I care about the visual inconvenience of litter. But you're right, there are things that could be done to make the program better. Oregon for example is now making a shift towards redemption center returns. Much of the beverage industry still fights hard against deposit programs, despite their effectiveness, and this is why water bottles for example are not included. Actually surveys show that people like deposit programs. Actually didn't the MI law pass by voter referrendum? Who likes it? A majority of those who voted for it. :)

June 15, 2011 at 12:43 PM 

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