Michigan’s silly deposits on cans and bottles

One thing I absolutely loved about moving from Michigan to Texas was I didn’t have to deal with deposits on cans and bottles.  When I moved back to Michigan I was upset that I had those stupid deposits once again.  In case anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about let me explain.  In a handful of states there is a deposit when you buy certain products in certain containers.  in most states it’s 5 cents when you buy a soda or a beer in a can, plastic bottle, and glass bottle.  Michigan is the ONLY state that charges a 10 cent deposit.  What that means is when you checkout the store charges you 10 cents for each soda or beer that is in a can, plastic bottles, and/or glass bottle.  Notice how I said soda or beer.  I’ll talk more about that later.  If you buy a 6 pack of beer that is marked at $5 you pay tax on that $5 plus an additional 60 cents in deposits.  When you bring the cans and/or bottles back you get your deposit back.  It’s done as a way to strongly encourage people to recycle via loss of their own money.  It’s also a way for people to walk the streets and pick up cans and bottles(yes you see it all the time).  This whole deposit thing is a pain in the ass!  People have to try to rinse out every can and bottle and keep them somewhere in their house just to haul off to the store to get their deposit back.  It’s also very disgusting as I’ve seen people dump dirty cans and bottles into shopping carts where the stale soda and beer is dripping through the bottom of the cart all over the ground.  That means you might lay your food when you’re grocery shopping on the bottom of a cart that just had stale soda and/or beer all over it.  We all know grocery stores never clean their carts.  As for the smell of the machines that accepts these items and the areas people go to return them is awful.  Imagine a room where someone spilled beer all over the ground and rarely cleans it up.  IT STINKS!  Below is what one of the machines looks like near the opening and also what one of my plastic bags looked like so you have a clue on how dirty everything is.  Of course if everyone were to rinse their returnables nothing would get dirty but you can’t depend on EVERYONE doing the right thing.




To make matters worse a store/store chain will only take back a can or bottle if they sell it.  If a store won’t take a can or a bottle the typical response would be to just throw it away but it’s actually against the law in Michigan to throw away a bottle or can that has a deposit on it!  Now you can “recycle” using approved recycling services but if it hits a landfill then you broke the law.  I believe in recycling but there are only deposits on beer and soda cans, plastic bottles, and glass bottles.  There are not any deposits on wine bottles, liquor bottles, non-carbonated energy drink cans, and water bottles.  That just doesn’t make sense.  If you’re encouraging people to recycle why exclude a bunch of items?

Today I decided how much time it would take me to return two tall kitchen trashcans full of returnables.  Since a store only takes back cans and bottles they sell I had to visit two stores.

In the table below there are two columns.  The first column shows how much time would be involved if I was already making a trip to the store.  The second column shows how much time I actually spend as my only reason for going out of the house today was to return the cans and bottles.


Activity At Store Special Trip
Sort through cans/bottles and separate them by store at home 7:22 7:22
Drive to Meijer and walk to the returns area NA 11:25
Time to feed one can/bottle into the machine 8:26 8:26
In line/walk back to car NA 6:46
Drive to Aldi and walk to the returns area NA 15:35
Time to feed one can/bottle into the machine(there was only one machine and it was being used by someone before me.  Also it became full and we had to wait for someone to empty it). 9:25 9:25
In line/walk back to car NA 2:12
Time to drive home NA 15:35
TOTALS 25:13 76:46

If I was going to both grocery stores I would have spent a little over 25 minutes just returning the bottles and cans!  Since it was a special trip just for returning cans and bottles it took me over 76 minutes!  All of that time to get my measly $8.50 back.  That’s right, 85 cans/bottles = $8.50.  I haven’t even talked about the money involved for stores to buy and maintain these machines as I’m sure the cost is being passed to the customer.

I wish the state would do away with deposits or at the very least make all cans and bottles have deposits but I doubt that will ever happen.

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