Am. Beverage Ass'n v. Snyder, No. 11-2097 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Michigan promotes recycling of beverage containers by offering a cash refund of a 10-cent deposit to consumers and distributors. Retailers are required to accept empty containers of beverages that they sell. The Bottle Bill requires containers to indicate the state and the refund value as “MI 10ç” on each container. To address under-redemption, Michigan mandated that unclaimed deposits escheat to the state. A 1998 study estimated that fraudulent redemption of containers originating outside Michigan resulted in annual loss of $15.6 to $30 million. Michigan criminalized fraudulent redemption and, in 2008, required that, in addition to the MI 10ç designation, containers for certain beverages bear a “symbol, mark, or other distinguishing characteristic” to allow a reverse vending machine to determine whether a container is returnable. An industry association claimed violation of the Commerce Clause. The district court granted defendants summary judgment, finding that Mich. Comp. Laws 445.572a(10) is neither discriminatory nor extraterritorial and that a question of material fact existed on the extent of the burden on interstate commerce. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part, finding that the unique mark requirement is not discriminatory. However, because that requirement forces distributors to adopt the unique labeling system, without consideration of less burdensome alternatives, it has impermissible extraterritorial effect.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on January 7, 2013.