Press Release – Stopping Bottle Fraud

13 11 2008

From a press release….

Legislature begins work to stop bottle return fraud

LANSING – A bipartisan, bicameral package of legislation designed to upgrade reverse vending machines to prevent fraud from illegal bottle returns saw action this week as the bills passed out of House and Senate committees.

“Michigan is losing millions of dollars annually due to out-of-state bottles and cans being returned in exchange for the 10-cent deposit,” said bill sponsor Sen. Ron Jelinek. “In a time of economic crisis, we need to do what we can to keep this money in the state.”

In addition to committee action, a bill was introduced by Sen. Cameron Brown that would establish a fund to help reimburse the costs of the machine upgrades.

“We want to assist our manufacturers and retailers with the costs to comply with the new law,” Brown said. “As a legislator representing four counties that border two different states, I know how simple it is for redemption fraud to occur. This legislation will help bring an end to this criminal activity.”

The legislation reported from committee would:

require unique markings on returnable beverage containers sold in Michigan designating them as Michigan-only;
require reverse vending machines used in Michigan to correctly identify and reject foreign beverage containers;
prohibit reverse vending machine manufacturers from leasing, selling or transferring a reverse vending machine for use in Michigan if the machine does not meet specified requirements; and
revise and add new penalties and sentencing guidelines for consumers who return out-of-state containers and for dealers who accept out-of-state containers.

“Out-of-state, fraudulent bottle returns are cheating Michigan residents. By ensuring only Michigan cans are returned to Michigan stores, we help to prevent the loss of valuable funds dedicated to environmental clean-up,” said Great Lakes and Environment Committee Chair and bill sponsor Rep. Rebekah Warren.

Studies have indicated Michigan loses around $10 million annually in fraudulent returns. This is money that normally would be used for environmental cleanup efforts in the state.

“Fraudulent bottle returns is a major issue and it must be stopped before the problem gets worse,” said Rep. Steve Bieda, a bill sponsor. “This is money the state desperately needs. We do recognize water and juice bottles pose an environmental concern, but this is not the time to be adding to the deposit law. More bottles will only provide more opportunities for illegal redemption. We must fix the problem before contributing to it.”

Senate Bills 1391-1394 now move to the Senate floor and House bills 5147, 6460 and 6441-6443 now move to the House floor for consideration and passage.

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