MUCC, Legislature Helps Narrow Scope of Bottle Bill Changes

As summer starts kicking into high gear, it’s time for our favorite warm weather outdoor activities, grilling, and ice cold drinks. Of those activities, ice cold drinks, or at least the containers for certain ice cold drinks, has been the biggest topic of discussion at the capitol over the last few days.

The legislature is moving a bill, House Bill 5660, sponsored by Rep. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), that would create an exemption from the Michigan Bottle Deposit Law for pouch type containers that typically hold frozen margarita and daiquiri concoctions that are sold in most grocery and convenience stores. The containers are similar in makeup and in nature to Capri Sun drink pouches that have been on the market for years.

As many will remember, MUCC and its members were the driving force behind the citizen led initiative to create Michigan’s Bottle Deposit Law in 1976. This effort proved not only very popular, but very successful as well, as currently over 97% of cans and bottles that fall under the Bottle Deposit law are recycled.

House Bill 5660 was drafted in response to a Department of Treasury notification that stated the pouch containers would be required to have a deposit under the Bottle Deposit Law. This was problematic for grocers and retailers whose bottle return machines were not capable of accepting the pouch containers, and the container material proved very difficult, if not impossible, to recycle.

MUCC understood this predicament, but also had concerns that language used to exempt these pouch containers could be used in the future as a way for companies to get around the bottle deposit law. MUCC issued a letter through Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) on the Senate floor detailing these concerns and urging an amendment before it was scheduled for a vote today.

Thanks to the leadership of the bill sponsor Rep. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), Sen. Tory Rocca (R-Sterling Heights), Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville), and Gov. Rick Snyder’s office, these concerns were addressed in a Senate amendment sponsored by Sen. Green. The bill language as amended clarified the exemption for the current pouches only that carry frozen contents or are intended to be frozen.

The bill easily passed both chambers in bipartisan fashion and will now be transmitted to the Governor for his signature.

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