Bills would update Michigan’s bottle, recycling laws: What would change

‘Bottle Bill’ was approved in 1976

New legislation introduced in the Michigan Legislature aims to expand the state’s “Bottle Bill,” and to modernize the state’s recycling system.

Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and Rep. Christine Morse (D-Portage) introduced legislation to update the 40-year-old bill, proposing an expansion of items allowed.

Senate Bill 167 and House Bill 4331 would expand the state’s current 10-cent deposit on certain soft drinks, beer, and other carbonated beverages to all other non-carbonated beverages, except for milk containers.

The proposed bills would also:

  • Permit universal redemption, allowing consumers to take any recyclable bottle to a large store while allowing smaller stores to maintain smaller takebacks.
  • Create a bottle handling fund to reimburse distributors and dealers on a per-bottle-basis.
  • Make funding available for audits and fraud enforcement.
  • Provide $25 million each year to address contaminated sites.

”Michigan’s four decade-old ‘Bottle Bill’ was an innovative approach to promote recycling and prevent littering,” said Sen. McCann. “It is the most widely used and accepted state conservation program in state history, and it is time for us to build on that success. We have established a strong recycling culture and it makes no sense that Michigan residents aren’t able to return a deposit on plastic water bottles and other single-use containers.”

“With these updated, comprehensive approaches to our current recycling system, Michigan citizens will have even more incentives to recycle,” Rep. Morse said. “These improvements, and additional revenue, will help generate needed funds to protect and preserve our natural resources for generations to come.”

Michigan’s “Bottle Bill” was approved by voters back in 1976, which notably added a 10-cent deposit on all empty bottles of beer, carbonated soft drinks and water.

“When the Bottle Bill was first enacted, people couldn’t imagine the quantity or variety of single-use beverage containers we consume every day, especially the amount of bottled water or the sheer variety of Michigan brewed craft beer,” said Sean Hammond, Policy Director at the Michigan Environmental Council. “Expanding the number of containers covered by the 10-cent deposit, and making it easier to return any bottle to any major store, is a consumer-friendly change that not only keeps our environment clean, but makes returning bottles and cans even more convenient for Michiganders.”

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.