Senate announces plan to control illegal bottle returns
LANSING - A plan to better regulate and control bottle returns was today announced by the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Randy Richardville, who sponsored parts of the package. Richardville is one of four senators whose districts border the state line.
The five-bill package is designed to prevent bottles and cans not purchased in Michigan from being returned in state. The containers are returned, sometimes by the truckload, by individuals and organized smuggling rings that make large profits off Michigan businesses. These illegal operations cost the state $13 million a year.
“Michigan created its 10-cent bottle deposit law to encourage state residents to recycle,” said Richardville, R-Monroe. “Unfortunately, individuals that live in other states are taking advantage of this program. The legislation will help prevent this illegal activity to keep Michigan dollars within our state.”
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Richardville would help increase penalties for fraudulent beverage-container redemptions and establish felonies for repeat offenders.
Penalties include a fine of up to $500 for returning between 25 and 100 illegal containers, and up to $1,000 for returning more than 100 illegal containers. Penalties for repeat offenders increase to jail time of up to two years and a maximum fine of $5,000. Dealers accepting and paying the deposit on the returns will face similar penalties.
Other measures in the package would:
- Allow dealers to use money from the deposit fund for retrofitting beverage return machines to accommodate new technology that would process only Michigan-bought containers;
- Require retailers to post the increased penalties on their premises; and
- Allow dealers without automated beverage-return machines to limit customers from cashing in more than 50 cans ($5) in one day.
Michigan’s bottle deposit law collects 10 cents from each bottle or can purchased in Michigan and generously returns the 10 cents if the container is brought back to the store. Money collected but not returned is used to pay for environmental cleanup efforts around the state.
Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2008
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