Penny recycling plan to return in 2007
                                  By BRIAN McVICAR
                                  Capital News Service

LANSING – A bill aimed at increasing recycling in Michigan by collecting a 1-cent

surcharge on most items priced above $2 has died in committee.

        Members of the House Natural Resources, Great Lakes and Environment

Committee refused to move it forward, saying they didn’t have enough information on its

effects, said Steve Daunt, legislative aide to Rep. David Palsrok, R- Manistee, who chairs

the committee.

        “It didn’t look like people were comfortable enough with it to vote for it,” Daunt


        The proposal, introduced by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, would have placed a 1-

cent charge on all items costing more than $2 except drugs, utilities, fuel and goods from

vending machines.

        That money would then have been available to local governments and private

programs looking to start or expand recycling.

        Michigan doesn’t fund recycling programs.

        Peter Wills, a legislative aide for Hansen, said the represenative would

reintroduce the bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

        “We really want to develop this comprehensive funding plan,” Willis said.

        Mary Dechow, chair of the Michigan Recycling Partnership, said the proposal is

needed because cities often lack the money to establish and maintain effective recycling

        “A lot of communities don’t maintain the funding needed to get one started,” she


        An April report by Bill Rustem of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing policy

firm, said Michigan has a recycling rate of 20 percent, significantly lower than other

Great Lakes states.

        Minnesota, for example, has a 46 percent recycling rate. Its government funds

recycling programs and has set recycling goals, Dechow said.

        “We’ve never had a huge commitment behind it in the state,” she said.

        But some people argue the penny plan would hurt the state.

        Eric Rule, director of governmental affairs for The Michigan Retailers

Association, said retailers oppose the idea because it would require them to update

computers and other equipment to account for the fee.

        “To collect it and remit it to the state costs money,” he said. “It’s just one more

thing that makes Michigan less competitive than other states.”

        Rep. Matthew Gillard, D-Alpena, said that he was opposes the bill because it

would take too long to implement. Imposing the 1-cent fee also would have required a

vote by state residents in the 2008 election, he said.

        “Whatever money we raise we have to look closer at how that money is used,” he


        Doug Roberts, director of environmental policy for the Michigan Chamber of

Commerce, said the chamber supported the proposal because it gives consumers an

incentive to recycle.

        “We think it’s a reasonable amount,” he said.

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