Deposit on Water Bottles in MI’s Future?


Possibly, if the Michigan United Conservation Clubs have anything to say about it.

“The same group that pushed for Michigan to become the first state to require deposits on pop bottles wants to expand the law to add deposits to water bottles, and they hope to get it done by the end of the month.

“The Michigan United Conservation Clubs kicked off an initiative today to convince the legislature to add a 10-cent deposit for water bottles. More than 1.1 billion were thrown away in Michigan in 2005, according to the container Recycling Institute.”

None of us blogging here are old enough to remember a time when MI’s bottle deposit wasn’t in effect, so I suspect that it’s not something we’ve thought about much. The Free Press article points out that Michiganders recycle 97% of their pop bottles, but only about a fifth of water bottles. Would an amendment to the existing law be one more step down the slippery slope to the Total State, or is it an innocent way to prevent litter?

I think it’s probably somewhere in between. We’ve already got the infrastructure of the pop/beer/liquor bottle return program in place, and even if drinkers aren’t prevented from littering, scavengers get an incentive to pick up otherwise worthless junk. (My boyfriend often filled his gas tank this way in high school.) Moving the arbitrary distinction between the beverages we saddle with a deposit and those we don’t probably isn’t a sweeping gesture toward statism. On the other hand, I haven’t been able to find out a whole lot about the actual costs of the recycling process, and I’m always skeptical of situations where the costs and benefits are so obscured.

Lauren Ruhland, SET intern@MCPP

EDIT:  The Detroit News mentions that the grocery store lobby opposes this measure.

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One thought on “Deposit on Water Bottles in MI’s Future?

  1. It’s a bit of a tough call. Recycling is great, but needless government intervention is not. Lauren is right, though, in that simply adding water bottles into the law isn’t a move by the state to control our lives. Instead, it is just the state correcting a law for an industry it didn’t foresee when the law was enacted. The best thing to do, though, is encourage the beverage companies themselves to get together and set up a deposit program in all 50 states. Then, we wouldn’t need the government to be involved at all.

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