I read a piece the other day which informed us that Michigan’s largest bottle return company, Schupan and Sons, Inc., has announced that they acquired a Des Moines, Iowa-based recycling company. That got me to wonder how many bottles are returned every day, week, month and year in the state of Michigan.

In my research I found that Michigan’s bottle deposit law was enacted in 1976.  The law is titled “Initiated Law 1 of 1976”.  I also discovered that at 10-cents a bottle or can we are tied with Oregon for the highest bottle deposit law in the country.

Do you get frustrated like I do when you attempt to return your 10 to 20 cans or bottles and there are people at the machines with very large garbage bags filled with cans and bottles?   Now if you want to return your few cans and bottles you must wait for quite a while.  I often wonder if they are people who have picked up all of those cans and bottles from the side of the streets.  Is there a rule about how many cans or bottles a store must accept?  Glad you asked because there is, from a Michigan government website titled Michigan Bottle Deposit Law Frequently Asked Question that stated:

How many containers per day can be returned to a retailer?

A dealer may accept, but is not required to accept, from a person, empty returnable containers for a refund in excess of $25 on any given day. In other words, the Michigan Bottle Deposit Law allows up to $25 in refunds to be given per person per day per retailer. If the retailer chooses, he/she may accept additional amounts. However, a retailer may not refuse to accept fewer than $25 in returns from a person.

Another interesting fact that I found out was you cannot throw a bottle or can in the garbage.  According to that Michigan website one of the questions asked was “Can I throw beverage containers in the garbage?” and the answer is:

No. A law passed in 2004 (PA 34 of 2004) prohibits beverage containers, as defined in Deposit Law, from being disposed of in a landfill. Beverage containers may be placed in recycling bins, taken to a recycling center, or redeemed for deposit.

It is literally against the law to throw a beverage container “as defined in Deposit Law” in the garbage. I could not find what the punishment would be.  Do you think we may have too many laws in Michigan?

How many bottles and cans are returned each day, week, month or year. The best I could find was during the 12 weeks that Governor Whitmer closed all of the returnable centers Recycling Today states that approximately 70 million cans and bottles have gone unredeemed each week”.  If that is correct, I have come up with the following numbers:

  • Each day there could be as many as 10 million cans and bottles returned
  • Each week there could be as many as 70 million cans and bottles returned
  • Each month there could be as many as 280 million cans and bottles returned
  • Each year there could be as many as 3 billion 360 million cans and bottles returned

All I can say is WOW!  There are only approximately 10 million people who live in Michigan.  It appears that 3 billion 360 million cans and bottles are not enough.  Politicians in Michigan are currently looking to increase the number of containers under the deposit law.

I told you I would give you all you need to know and more about the bottle return law in Michigan.

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