LAKE COUNTY — A controversial bill was recently introduced in Michigan legislation, one which could change how state residents have been dealing with empty bottles and cans for years — turning them in to get back a 10-cent deposit.

House Bills 6532-36, introduced by State Rep. Joe Bellino on Nov. 28, would repeal the “bottle bill,” which has helped reduce litter for the past 40 years in Michigan.

Bellino’s bills repealing the deposit are intended to boost community recycling programs, arguing that at 15 percent, Michigan’s local recycling rate is one of the nation’s lowest and pulls aluminum and PET plastic away from community recycling systems.

If the legislation passes, the bottle deposit law would end on Dec. 31, 2022, and people who purchase a product with a deposit before that date would have three years to return the container for a refund. Additional money from unclaimed deposits would be directed to local recycling programs, carts used at recycling centers, education and material sorting facilities.

The legislation has been referred to as the House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness for consideration. No additional movement has taken place.

Pinora Township Supervisor Victoria Dennett is concerned about how the bill would impact people in the area who depend on returning bottles for extra cash.

“There are a lot of people up here who use the deposit to supplement their income by picking up bottles,” Dennett said. “Not just poor people pick up bottles. I have seen people in the township in four-wheelers riding around with their kids picking up bottles as well as other trash.”

Dennett also is worried about an increase of littering along roadsides if the bottle law is repealed.

“My kids have visited a few states which don’t have a bottle deposit law, and they noticed the roadways are trashy,” she added. “Everyone I have talked to thinks this law is a bad idea.”

Karen Logan, who works at Chase Express, counts bottles and cans people return on a daily basis.

“If this law goes into effect, it would hurt customers who return bottles and will make a mess on the roads. I am definitely against this bill,” she said.

At this time, State Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant, is opposed to the bills, strongly believing that investing in recycling is the better option, which is included in the governor’s tipping fee proposal.

The tipping fee proposal would invest $79 million annually to help renew Michigan’s environment and protect public health, and would include providing recycling grants to triple Michigan’s recycling rate by $15 million. Funds would be distributed to local entities for recycling infrastructure, market development and education.