About three months ago, Brian Everidge was stopped for speeding just north of Detroit. He was behind the wheel of a Budget box truck whose contents could land him in prison for up to five years: more than 10,000 aluminum cans. The Guardian reports that just as Seinfeld's Kramer and Newman once had the bright idea to drive recycled bottles and cans from New York to Michigan to cash in on the state's higher bottle deposit, Everidge was allegedly making a Kentucky-to-Michigan run to do something similar. At 10 cents a pop, Everidge stood to get $1,000 in Michigan versus $0 in Kentucky, which has no bottle deposit; instead, he faces a $5,000 fine and prison time for the felony charge, which is specific to those attempting to return more than 10,000 cans, reports the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
Officer Clifford Lyden, who stopped Everidge on April 27, testified on Thursday that the Michigan man told him the cans were from Lexington, Ky; and that he didn't pay the deposit on them. (The deposit cost is simply added to the price of the beverage when purchased.) But Everidge's defense argues that because he was pulled over for speeding, he was merely attempting to attempt to return the bottles, and thus "caught too early," with the charge of "beverage return of nonrefundable bottles" not actually applying. Livingston County District Judge Suzanne Geddis determined his case will go to trial. One Michigan law professor says Everidge is unlikely to do time given the $35,000 annual price tag to imprison someone. Michigan's bottle bill mandates a refund higher than any other state, reports the Bottle Bill Resource Guide, and the state boasts the highest redemption rate as well: 94.2% in 2014. (Read more recycling stories.)