Judge says bottle return marking on Michigan bottles can stay

Jun 1, 2011

A federal judge says a state law requiring beer and cans sold in Michigan to have specific markings is not against federal laws.

State lawmakers amended Michigan’s bottle-deposit law in 2008. They wanted to prevent people from bringing bottles from out of state to return in Michigan for 10-cents-a-piece. That’s the highest bottle deposit in the country.

They made it illegal for stores to knowingly accept out of state bottles. And they made bottlers put a special mark on returnable cans and bottles sold in Michigan.

 The American Beverage Association challenged the legality of the special marking requirement. They argued making bottlers create a product that can only be sold in Michigan is too costly, and limits interstate commerce.

But a federal judge in Grand Rapids ruled in favor of the state this week. The judge says the beverage association didn’t show their burden is ‘excessive in relation to the local benefits.’

The association declined to comment, but said in a written statement:

“This law makes it more difficult to do business in Michigan and surrounding states.  The mandatory requirement to place a unique mark on all of our industry’s beverages sold in Michigan is discriminatory and violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.”

The association won’t say it will appeal the decision, but is considering its’ legal options.