Plastic Bottles In Focus: Updating California's Bottle and Can Recycling Law


While California's successful Bottle and Can Recycling Law diverts nearly 100,000 tons of plastic bottles from landfills every year, policy makers for some time have been keenly aware of the fact that the program covers less than half of all bottles sold in California. Currently, over 200,000 tons of plastic bottles are landfilled every year because they are not under California's Bottle and Can Recycling Law.

California's venerable, 25 year-old Bottle and Can Recycling Law has become a model of extended producer responsibility across the nation, and has diverted millions of tons of "disposable" products from landfills. However, since the inception of the program, the use of disposable plastic products has skyrocketed, and there are now more one-time use bottles heading to our landfills than ever before.

Support for expansion of California's Bottle and Can Recycling Law in order to close this gap has been longstanding and diverse. Most recently, the California Ocean Protection Council resolved in February of 2007 that the expansion of California's Bottle and Can Recycling Law to more plastic containers is the best way for California to reduce the flow of plastic waste into our oceans. Efforts to expand the Bottle and Cans Recycling law have also revolved around its potential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by up to 270,000 metric tons CO2 and help California meet its green house gas targets.

California's Bottle and Can Recycling Law works by assigning a refund value to bottles and cans that can be redeemed by the consumer at redemption centers. Bottles under this highly successful, 25 year-old program have been virtually eliminated from the litter stream. A flagship of the extended producer responsibility model, the Bottle and Can Recycling Law has proved remarkably successful at reducing plastic litter, decreasing green house gas emissions, diverting materials from landfills, creating markets for recycled content, and increasing the efficiency of the Californian economy. Join us in our efforts to bring all plastic bottles under this successful program.

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