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E-M:/ News Release: Smuggled Bottle Law Hailed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            Contact:          Patrick Schuh
September 6, 2007                                                                                 517.214.4288


Clean Water Action Hails Plan to

Protect Environment Funds from Smuggled Bottles, Cans

Illegal redemptions of out-of-state bottles, cans rob state of environmental funds, threaten cleanup programs

LANSING –Clean Water Action today applauded a bipartisan state House plan to protect Michigan's environmental cleanup funds by cracking down on the illegal smuggling of empty beer and pop cans and bottles from neighboring states.  The illegal redemption of these out-of-state cans and bottles depletes Michigan's funding for brownfield and other environmental cleanup programs.

"Every out-of-state can and bottle that contaminates our bottle-deposit recycling stream robs money from important environmental programs – and it has got to stop," said Patrick Schuh, Deputy Policy Director for Clean Water Action. "Now we have the tools to keep Michigan's communities healthy and safe. We applaud the state House for partnering with business and the environmental community to build healthy communities that can attract new investments while protecting the quality of life for Michigan families."

Introduced by Rep. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) and supported by more than 70 legislators, the House plan announced Thursday requires pop and beer manufacturers to affix a unique Universal Product Code or an additional bar code identifying the can or bottle as returnable in Michigan.  A second option under Bieda's plan requires manufacturers of reverse vending machines to upgrade their machines so they can identify out-of-state cans and bottles as they are being redeemed.

The smuggling of pop and beer bottles and cans from other states into Michigan to be redeemed at 10 cents a piece is a serious problem.  Each out-of-state can or bottle smuggled into Michigan and redeemed depletes the amount of money set aside from the recycling of Michigan cans and bottles.  The redemption of out-of-state cans and bottles means smugglers collect Michigan money that was never paid into in the first place.

A 2000 recycling study estimated that 100 million bottles and cans are fraudulently redeemed in Michigan each year, which equals a $10-million loss to Michigan businesses and the state, according to a Nov. 30, 2003, Toledo Blade report.

"Instead of smuggling bottles and cans into Michigan, residents of other states should work to enact bottle deposit laws in their state," said Schuh.  "That would end the smuggling and boost recycling."

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