Early last spring, the state put a stop order in place prohibiting the returning of empty pop/beer cans or bottles to retailers. With the amount at home starting to reach new levels and running out of places to keep them, it came to mind that there were probably others in the same situation.

This gave me the idea that we could collect these returnables and then later turn them in with the proceeds going to local charities. This turned out to be a huge success generating the much needed revenue. This was highly beneficial due to local charities not having the usual resources or having lost the ability to fund raise due to the restrictions set in place for the COVID situation.

On Dec. 19, I finished my 13th run to the store to close our initial campaign from all of the cans and bottles we received early this summer. We had a scheduled drop off at Baldwin and Luther for a total of six days. We also conducted pick ups for large amounts and for senior citizens.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I discuss the Sheriff's Returnables for Charity campaign.


On Nov. 2, 1976, voters passed the Michigan Beverage Container Act (nicknamed "The Bottle Bill") in a statewide referendum. The Bottle Bill put a 10-cent deposit on all empty bottles of beer and carbonated soft drinks.

The legislature also amended the Bottle Bill twice, once in 1989 and again in 2008. These amendments permitted a greater variety of bottles to be recycled, as well as adjusted the payments given to individuals for recycling.

MCL 445.571 states:

"(a) "Beverage" means a soft drink, soda water, carbonated natural or mineral water, or other nonalcoholic carbonated drink; beer, ale, or other malt drink of whatever alcoholic content; or a mixed wine drink or a mixed spirit drink.

(b) "Beverage container" means an airtight metal, glass, paper, or plastic container, or a container composed of a combination of these materials, which, at the time of sale, contains 1 gallon or less of a beverage.

(c) "Empty returnable container" means a beverage container which contains nothing except the residue of its original contents.

(d) "Returnable container" means a beverage container upon which a deposit of at least 10 cents has been paid, or is required to be paid upon the removal of the container from the sale or consumption area, and for which a refund of at least 10 cents in cash..."

MCL 445.572 states:

"(10) A dealer may accept, but is not required to accept, from a person, empty returnable containers for a refund in excess of $25.00 on any given day."


The initial campaign results are as follows:

• 6 days of collection @ 3 hrs = 18 hours

• Scheduled pick ups = 4 hours

• 13 days of returning @ 3.5 hrs = 45.5 hours

• 13 days of travel time @ 2 hrs = 26 hours


• Can/bottles returned: 92,537

• Return total: $9,253.70

• Scrap total: $11.16

GRAND TOTAL: $9264.86


Funds were distributed to local charities just a few days prior to Christmas. Those recipients were:

• Bread of Life Food Pantry: $2,000

• Luther Lions Club: $2,000

• AMVETS Post 1988: $2,000

• VFW Post 5315: $2,000

Total paid out to date is $8,000. Remaining and future proceeds will be distributed to department projects and other charities.


A big thanks goes out to those who made this a success:

• Luther Lions Club (property usage)

• Green Door - Baldwin (storage)

• John Howell (storage container)

• Mary Minnick & Mark Everhart (storage)

• John & Corie Miller (collecting)

• Fred Wheetley (sorting)

• Ernie Wogatzke (collecting)

• Cliff Demos (storage and returning)

• Andrew & Crystal Heykoop (sorting)

• Judy & Bill Grahek, and Bill's brother (collecting)

• Commissioner Dawn Martin (returning)

• Lake County Sheriff's Explorers (everything)

• Meijer - Cadillac (return place)

• Meijer - Manistee (return place)

• Fair Salvage (excess scrap)

• ...and my trusty old cargo trailer...

A special thanks goes out to Explorer Deputy Daniel Hasbrouck for his extra effort working with the Sheriff on taking cans back. As well as anyone I may have forgotten.


Another thing that I realized is that most people don't like to take their returnables back when they actually are allowed to. With that in mind, this program is going to continue on. If we can generate easy money for charity, why not continue?

I will be scheduling drop-offs at one location per month (to be announced), as well as picking those up that have large amounts. There will be some requirements and or restrictions for future acceptance of your returnables:

• You cannot randomly drop off returnables at the Sheriff's Office unless prior arrangements are made.

• NO store brand plastic or glass bottles.

(Ex: Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Sav-A-Lot or anything that Meijer does not take.)

• Glass bottles MUST be separated from any plastic or aluminum. If they are in the same bag, we will not accept them.

• Glass bottles must be in cardboard boxes or original packaging.

• Plastic bottles or aluminum cans must be in durable garbage or contractor bags. NO dog food bags, grain bags or cheapo small bags.

• Every returnable must have a UPC barcode on it.

• We will take anything made out of aluminum for scrap.

Once we accumulate $1,000 in new or available proceeds, those funds will be distributed to another local charity. Those recipients will be posted to the Lake County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.


Also, I am looking for donations to start some other charitable products. One project will be for an alternate LCSO patch being designed into a collectable autism, breast cancer, and military charity patch. Each patch will be sold to the public and collectors, with the proceeds going to each respective organization.

Many other departments have conducted similar campaigns and have been very successful.

For about 300 patches, it will cost about $570 to the manufacturer. This will be the cost for each variation. If you are interested in donating to the autism, breast cancer or military patch campaign, please email me at rmartin@co.lake.mi.us.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to rmartin@co.lake.mi.us.