- Two Michigan state representatives have introduced bills to improve recycling in the state, according to an announcement from the Michigan House Democrats. Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, also proposed increasing tipping fees at landfills in the state from $0.36 per ton to $4.75 per ton to pay for $75 million worth of environmental initiatives, including $15 million in annual funding for local recycling programs.
- Rep. Jon Hoadley, of Kalamazoo, introduced HB 5486, which, if passed, would expand Michigan's current bottle deposit law to include all beverages (except milk) that are packaged in metal, plastic or glass.
- Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, of Dearborn, introduced HB 5485, which would require apartment buildings to provide access to recycling for renters. The bill would hand enforcement authority to local jurisdictions and provides an exemption based on insufficient space for recycling containers and service.
These bills and proposals come immediately on the heels of Snyder saying in his final state of the state address how disappointed he is in his efforts to boost the state's recycling numbers. Already, state officials are planning to "lead by example" by improving recycling at state buildings and parks, and have retained a communications firm to spearhead a statewide education campaign to help boost recycling.
Bottle deposits in New York and Iowa have shown substantial success, capturing hundreds of tons of containers and creating high diversion rates for bottles in both states. A recent survey from Iowa showed residents would support expanding the bottle bill program. In Massachusetts, it has been estimated that the bottle bill creates 2,000 jobs and would cost the state millions if repealed. Expanding what types of containers are eligible for redemption in Michigan could create a powerful incentive for more consumers to clean and recycle containers, especially with Michigan's higher than average $0.10 deposit.
Multi-unit recycling presents challenges, though Michigan would not be alone in examining them. Dallas is proposing an ordinance which would require multi-unit dwellings in the city to provide access for recycling, and other cities in Texas already have local ordinances requiring it. Handing the authority to local jurisdictions, instead of state-level management, appears to be a reasonable strategy for the state to implement multi-unit recycling so that each case can be considered individually.
Both bills were introduced by Democrats with exclusively Democratic co-sponsors. Recycling is not typically a hyper-partisan issue, and given Snyder's recently announced efforts, it is possible the bills would get support from the executive. It also remains possible that the next class of Michigan lawmakers and Michigan's next governor will not agree with or support these initiatives. However, the bills were introduced before the end of January, and the Michigan legislative session spreads throughout the year, so there could be meaningful legislative action yet to come.