The Michigan System

In the Beginning

Michigan is one of only ten states that require a deposit on bottles and cans. In the 1950s and 60s, pop bottles, beer bottles and cans were not returnable, causing roadsides to be littered with empty bottles and cans. In 1974, State Representative Lynn Jondahl of East Lansing introduced a bill that would require stores to collect a dime deposit on carbonated beverage containers.

The bill faced stiff opposition from beverage container producers as well as grocers. Although most Michiganders favored it, lawmakers ignored Jondahl’s bill.

In 1976, the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC) took action through an initiative. In order to get the issue on the ballot, the MUCC gathered 400,000 signatures, twice the required number. The first person to sign the petition was Governor William Milliken, who wanted Michigan to become a model state in the fight against pollution.

On November 2, 1976, voters went to the polls and overwhelmingly passed the new law, becoming the only state with a ten-cent deposit (as opposed to 5¢ in other states).

Today, ninety-seven percent of eligible containers are recycled, the highest rate in the nation. Michiganders have redeemed over 100 billion containers since 1979, saving enormous amounts of energy and resources, as well as taxpayer money for cleanup.