Bottle Bills

Guest Blogger - Michigan Mary

I am a new addition here at RE3 and in the state of North Carolina. I have lived in Michigan all my life and therefore am coming to my new surroundings with a prescribed understanding of how I thought recycling works nationally – boy was I wrong!

Mainly I am talking about the vast differences in recycling between these two states due to Michigan being a bottle bill state. A bottle bill state is where individuals are charged a small amount extra when they purchase a bottled beverage (10 cents per bottle in Michigan) and upon return of the bottle they are given back their deposit. So my understanding of recycling these products has always been based upon a direct incentive to do so.

Currently Michigan has a 97 percent recycling rate for cans and bottles which is considerably higher than the national average of 40 percent for these items. Even though I recycle because it is good for the environment, I know that a lot of other people need this direct benefit to entice them into action and therefore find it to be a very successful and desirable program.

I recognize that these steps are difficult and controversial to implement but the preceding statistics truly speak for themselves. I would like to be able to rely on others to do their part because it’s the “right” thing to do - but is that realistic? The numbers unfortunately seem to point away from this notion.

Yes, it is difficult to encourage bottle manufacturers to incur this initial penalty on their product but Michigan and 10 other states were able to overcome this obstacle, why can’t others? States without current bottle bills actually have a greater opportunity than Michigan to make a difference.

Because the bottle bill was formed in 1978, bottled water, one of the most vastly consumed beverages is not as actively recycled in Michigan. In fact it has a dismal recycling rate of only 20 percent across the state.

What do you guys think? Should other states hop on board and support the implementation of bottle bills? It seems to be working in Michigan, couldn’t it work on a national level?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right On Michigan Mary! Oregon was the first state to pass the Bottle Bill, and as of Jan 1, 2009, we updated it to include water bottles. It proved to have logistical consequences, but it was handled and we are all far better off for doing so. Anybody looking for information on how to lobby for a bottle bill in your state visit www.bottlebill.org.