California's Bottle Bill Needs Our Attention
California's Bottle Bill is one of the nation's most successful litter and pollution reduction programs. Since 1988, Californians have recycled more than 10 million tons of aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers. No other recycling program or policy in this state has resulted in higher recycling levels, and no program of its kind in the country has been found to be more cost effective.
However, California's Bottle Bill is currently in a state of crisis. Falling oil prices have lowered the scrap value of recycled materials and outdated regulatory provisions have prevented California's payments to recycling centers from keeping up. As a result, more than 560 recycling centers have closed in the last two years alone and California's beverage container recycling rate has fallen below 80% for the first time since 2008. This drop in recycling is equivalent to an additional 1.6 million beverage containers littered or landfilled every day.
Long-term changes are needed, but California's recycling centers can't afford to wait for tedious negotiations in the Legislature. In order to prevent the closure of additional recycling centers, California's Legislature must adopt an immediate short-term fix and then focus on long-term solutions. One bill currently presents such a short-term fix - SB 102, a budget trailer bill currently in the Assembly. To prevent additional closures, SB 102 would return recycling center payments to appropriate levels by using the 2015 cost of recycling in the payment calculations. To incentivize the opening of convenience recycling centers in areas of the State that currently have no opportunities to recycle, SB 102 would offer handling fee payments to centers that open this year.
Recent media coverage of California's Bottle Bill Crisis:
San Francisco Chronicle: Editorial: California should stop shortchanging recycling program
Sacramento Bee: Op-Ed: Jared Blumenfeld: Brown needs to rescue California’s recycling programs
San Diego Union Tribune: Op-Ed: Mark Murray: California’s self-inflicted recycling crisis needs fix
San Diego Union Tribune: Editorial: State leaders should care about plastic bottles as much as plastic bags
Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Stop starving California's recycling program
Sea Change Radio: Interview with CAW Executive Director Mark Murray: California Recycling in Decline
- Mercury News: Recycling centers continue to struggle, driving California recycling rates down
- AlterNet: As Recycling Declines and Centers Close, the Homeless Are Really Screwed
- Los Angeles Times: Californians are recycling bottles less and less. Here's what's going on