(WXYZ) — Do you ever wonder what happens to the bottles and cans that you don’t take to the grocery store for a dime refund?
Most of the money, 75 percent, goes into the state’s Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund for environmental remediation, which EGLE uses to clean-up contaminated sites around Michigan; the other 25 percent goes to retailers.
A new package of bills aim to change that breakdown, once again giving beverage distributors a piece of the pie. The original law went on the books in 1976. When it did, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association Spencer Nevins said distributors received a portion of the money to build necessary infrastructure to sort the returnables.
“You’ve got to sort green glass from clear glass, glass from aluminum. So there was a huge infrastructure cost. So the way the bottle bill first passed, all those unclaimed deposits were left with the distributors to pay for it, and they did,” he said.
Nevins said the equipment hasn’t been updated in decades, and adjustments in the law over the years he said, cut distributors out.
Under the proposed changes, including a bill co-sponsored by State Rep. John Chirkun from Roseville, the breakdown would be as follows:
- 20 percent to distributors
- Five percent to law enforcement for the purpose of combating bottle deposit fraud
“We’re losing out on millions of dollars in revenue,” said Rep. Chirkun. “People are going out of state to buy their pop and their beer and they’re bringing it back here, selling it where they don’t pay the deposit on it.”
He said the five percent allocated to police would give the law some teeth, and hopefully he said, deter illegal deposits.
COVID-`19 closed bottle return facilities throughout the state for a few months, larger grocery stores are now once against accepting deposits. Chirkun said there’s more than $80 million worth of returnables accumulated during that time.
“It’s estimated that it’s going to take six months for retailers or distributors to clear the massive backlog of bottles and cans,” he said.
“This aging equipment is starting to fall apart and it needs to happen,” Nevins told 7 Action News of the proposed change.
EGLE is against the measure. Spokesperson Jill Greenberg said in part that it “..would take unclaimed bottle deposit money away from contaminated site cleanup and redevelopment in Michigan communities.”
You can read the full statement below:
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) appreciates the efforts of our industry partners to combat bottle return fraud and administer the bottle return law. However, the agency opposes this proposal that would take unclaimed bottle deposit money away from contaminated site cleanup and redevelopment in Michigan communities.
Currently, EGLE receives roughly $25 million annually from the unclaimed deposits, all of…