Bottle Bill History
In The Beginning
Under these 'bottle bills,' beverage retailers assess a 'deposit' on consumers, typically a nickel. And that deposit is 'refunded' when the beverage container is returned to a retailer. It's important to note that these programs were envisioned and adopted long before curbside recycling made it's debut in the early 1980's.
It was in this context that environmental groups, local government officials, and private sector recyclers worked to develop a different kind of bottle bill. One that complimented, rather than competed with existing private and non-profit recycling programs. And one that would actually support the fledgling 'curbside recycling' programs that were sprouting in many California cities.
California Gets Its Bottle Bill
Under the California law, a 'redemption value' is assessed on beverage distributors on beverage sales to retailers and paid to the State. This cost is generally added to the price of the product (often known as a deposit fee) and passed along to consumers.
The revenue is then paid to public, private and non-profit recyclers on a monthly basis for beverage containers accepted for recycling. In order to participate in the program, a recycler must agree to accept all beverage types.
Under the system, consumers have several recycling options. They can return containers for recycling and receive the redemption value at either a supermarket-based recycling center or any of the other privately operated recycling centers. Alternatively, they can 'donate' the containers to a non-profit recycling program which then receives the redemption value. Finally, they can leave the containers in their curbside recycling program. And while they may forego the direct payment of redemption value under this option, the redemption value is retained by the curbside recycling program where the revenue is used to help offset the cost of providing the curbside recycling service.
While the program does require most large beverage retailers to either take containers back inside the store or establish parking lot-based recycling centers, it's interesting to note that from the beginning, most beverage container recycling (55% to 65%) has occurred at pre-existing private sector recycling centers. The supermarket-based recyclers account for about 25% of beverage container recycling, while the balance was about 15% to 20%, is handled by curbside recyclers.
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