LANSING – The Michigan League of Conservation Voters today hailed an announcement by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in which she issued guidance for restarting bottle and can returns statewide. Bottle returns were suspended late March as a safety precaution to curb the spread of COVID-19. A significant portion of unclaimed bottle deposits go toward cleanup of sites contaminated with toxic chemicals like PFAS, but collection of these unclaimed funds has been frozen since bottle returns were suspended.
“We know exposure to toxic contaminants, like PFAS, can weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to the worst impacts of Covid-19,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Reinstating the bottle return program will help boost the critical funding needed for toxic contamination cleanup efforts statewide and help protect the health and safety of all Michiganders.”
According to the state of Michigan, bottle returns will phase in over a two-week period.
Michigan’s bottle deposit program, when active, allows 75% of unclaimed deposits to go into the Michigan Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund. These funds go toward cleaning up toxic contamination, PFAS remediation and pollution prevention.
In 2018, a record amount of $42 million was collected in unclaimed bottle deposits — the lion’s share which went to the Cleanup and Redevelopment Fund.
“Done safely, reinstating our bottle and can deposit program will free up millions of dollars that will help clean up toxic contamination that threatens our drinking water and public health,” Wozniak said.