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Michigan and Maine Pass Bottle Bills

December 1976

Citation: ELR 10273

Successful referenda on the ballot in recent elections have added Michigan and Maine to the growing number of states that require deposits on beverage containers1 and mark a significant gain toward improved control of solid waste. The new laws follow fairly closely the 1972 Oregon bottle bill, which is generally considered to be quite successful, and in combination with a very close race in Massachusetts indicate that the example set by Oregon may be catching on.2

Mandatory deposits on beverage containers represent an attempt to deal with a significant part of the solid waste problem; beverage containers amount to about eight percent of all solid waste and 54 to 70 percent of highway litter by volume.3 Other approaches to the beverage-container waste problem have ranged from a tax on litter, a minimal fee paid on the sale of each container at the point of purchase to be used for litter collection,4 to an outright ban on nonreturnable beverage containers.5 Besides litter control, mandatory deposits are also seen as a means of encouraging resource and energy conservation—last year, 60 billion beverage containers consumed 7 million tons of glass, 2 million tons of steel, and 500,000 tons of aluminum6—and less energy is needed to refill a bottle than to make a new container.

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