Rep. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) introduced a bill, House Bill 6533, right after Thanksgiving that would toss out Michigan’s 40-year old bottle deposit law. Michiganders are refunded 10 cents for cans and bottles of beverages such as beer and soft drinks.
The “bottle bill” was a key part of GOP former Gov. William Milliken’s environmental legacy. Milliken and his wife, Helen, were instrumental in getting the proposal on the 1976 ballot. The initiative won by a 2 to 1 margin, despite fierce opposition from retailers and beverage makers.
Milliken is widely viewed as one of the most successful governors in Michigan history, serving from 1969 to 1983. But his moderate politics have made him unpopular with some current GOP lawmakers and activists. After Milliken endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, he was unceremoniously excommunicated by his local Republican party in Grand Traverse County.
Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) are among those who have championed legislation expanding the bill to include water, juice and energy drinks, but there’s been no movement.
Even staunch conservative Detroit News editorial page Editor Nolan Finley endorsed the idea of adding water bottles. He wrote a column earlier this year singing the law’s praises for achieving a 95 to 98 percent recycling rate for beer and soda containers.
However, Bellino believes it’s time for the bottle bill to go. He told WDIV-TV in Detroit the impetus of his bill is to improve upon Michigan’s community recycling rate, which lags behind the national average.
Bellino, who owns the Broadway Market in Monroe, admitted to Bridge that he has a “vested interest” in scrapping the law, which would save him roughly $9,000 a year.