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Michigan man faces 5 years in prison for bottle deposit scam

July 25, 2016


A resident of the U.S. state of Michigan is facing a possible five-year prison sentence for allegedly attempting to…um…defraud his state’s bottle deposit system.

According to reports, one Brian Edward Everidge stands accused of attempting to return more than 10,000 bottles from states other than Michigan. On June 14, the 44-year-old resident of Columbiaville, Michigan, pleaded not guilty in the 53rd District Court of Michigan to one count of beverage return of non-refundable bottles, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

The scheme came to light after Everidge was pulled over for speeding by a Michigan State police officer on April 27 in Livingston County, located about 64 kilometres from Detroit, Michigan. The officer noticed a very large number of returnable beverage containers inside of Everidge’s rented Budget truck and Everidge admitted to the officer that they were all from out-of-state.

A report in the Guardian says that Everidge admitted to the officer that the containers (which the truck was full to bursting with) were from the state of Kentucky but he wouldn’t say where he planned to return them.

After an investigation by the Michigan State Police, Everidge was charged under Section 445.574a of the Michigan Beverage Containers Law, which makes it a felony to knowingly return 10,000 or more nonreturnable containers that were not purchased in Michigan—an offence punishable by a prison term of up to 5 years or a fine of up to USD$5,000, or both.

Michigan’s famously rich bottle deposit system

For over 30 years Michigan’s bottle deposit system has offered a 10 cent per-container refund—the highest in the United States. This has given the state an enviable recycling rate for beverage containers of 96 percent (as of 2011), as compared to the 66.8 percent rate (as of 2007) of New York, which offers a per-container return of only a nickel.

Michigan has also become a target for fraudsters, who try to sneak in wholesale quantities of out-of-state beverage containers to cash them in at America’s higher deposit rate.

Michigan claims that it loses millions-a-year to such fraudulent returns—USD$13 million-a-year according to 2007 estimates, says USA Today.

Fans of the 1990s American TV series Seinfeld will likely be familiar with the Michigan bottle deposit law. In 1996, a two-part episode of the sitcom, entitled “The Bottle Deposit“, involved the characters Newman and Kramer hatching a scheme to drive a mail truck full of bottles and cans from New York City to Michigan, in order to cash them in at the State’s higher deposit rate.

Naturally things turn out badly for Newman and Kramer but not as badly as they could turn out for poor Michigan resident Brian Everidge, who is actually facing prison time and for what? A possible gross, in U.S. dollars, on the high side of $1,000, with a net of considerably less than that after expenses! Click the image to enlarge it.

From → Binning, TV

  1. Jet permalink

    Yes,I do remember that Seinfeld episode. So bringing the recycling rate up to $0.10 will encourage more people to recycle? Lets try it.


    • Perhaps I was wrong not to added some paragraphs to the post to compare Michigan to B.C. but I was going to wait, pending a search for a similar B.C. law against out-of-province refundable containers.

      Anyway, British Columbia’s deposit system varies by container content and volume between 5, 10 and 20 cents per-container and claims a diversion rate between 80 to 94 percent.

      If there was going to be a similar illicit flow of returnable beverage containers onvolving B.C., as happen with Michigan, it would probably be from B.C. and to Alberta–because Alberta, while having a similar deposit regimen to B.C., covers a few more containers, including soy beverage Tetrapaks, which have no deposit value in B.C.

      I know an Ontario car binner through my Twitter account who collects and cashes in interchangeably in either Ontario or Quebec–out of necessity, it seems, as there is no equivalent of B.C. Return-It recycling depot system.


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