http://www.bottlebill.org/ is a great resource to find out about the US states and other nations that have implemented bottle bills. everyone has seen the list of US state abbreviations on the sides of their pop or beer bottles. why don’t all of these states also appear on water bottles? and why don’t all of the states appear on all bottles? i am accustomed to the bottle laws having grown up in Michigan because the state’s bottle bill has been active since 1978. for the sake of my familiarity, i am going to pick on Michigan. although Michigan may have the highest bottle deposit and return at 10 cents each, it doesn’t apply to every type of beverage. i do not know the political drive for implementing the bottle bill in Michigan but i do know that the legislation passed through a statewide vote that my parents and others proudly remember voting for. when the laws were enacted, lawmakers felt a need to differentiate between different types of beverages. when the law was written in 1976, there was not a plethora of bottled water and other beverages that we see in stores today. in Michigan, the 10 cent deposit only applies to beverages that are carbonated. the 10 cent per plastic, glass, or aluminum container deposit is charged to the consumer at the time of purchase and is refunded to them when it is returned at a bottle collection station [which by law is any store that sells the product]. this still unfortunately leads to many discarded water and juice bottles [and cans]. it also doesn’t include wine and hard liquors. it would be a great thing to see that law amended to include all other uncarbonated beverages to reduce litter and raise recycling rates even more. this will unfortunately probably not happen anytime soon considering the dismal economic climate within the state.
if you are skeptical of the effect that these laws actually have on recycling efforts and discarded waste, i challenge you to visit Michigan and see for yourself how few bottles are actually littering the landscape. according to bottlebill.org, “The Michigan law requires reporting of containers sold and redeemed by bottlers and distributors. At 10¢, Michigan’s deposit is the highest in the country—and so is its recycling rate.” their figures show that 96.9% of the bottles sold with deposits are actually returned and recycled. that is a great thing!
unfortunately, as i remember it, none of the bottle return machines, such as the one pictured above, accept the bottles if they have the plastic caps on. this very well could have changed since i have moved away from Michigan several years ago. let’s hope it did for the sake of all of the other discarded plastic caps!