A law requiring unique Michigan markings on returnable beverage containers does not, on its face, violate the federal Commerce Clause, according to Western District Judge Gordon Quist.
A suit filed by the American Beverage Association against several state officials claims the law unfairly limits interstate commerce.
The Michigan-specific markings enable deposit-return machines to recognize that the container was purchased in Michigan. The state argues that the law is necessary to prevent situations like this one:
All kidding aside, deposit-return fraud is no small matter, wrote Quist:
[A]lthough it has never been stated with precision how many bottles are fraudulently redeemed each year, Plaintiff does not deny that the problem exists, and Defendants have presented sufficient evidence that estimates the scope of fraud to be, conservatively, 10 million dollars per year.
Yet to be determined in the litigation: whether burden imposed on the beverage manufacturers outweighs the benefits that the state obtains from the unique-marking requirement.
The case is American Beverage Ass’n v. Synder, et al.