The California Department of Conservation on Monday made it official: the consumer refund value for recycling beverage containers will increase to 5 cents (10 cents on containers 24 ounces and larger), effective January 1. The change was authorized by AB 3056 (Hancock).
Californians Against Waste's effort to gain a 'nickel' bottle bill in California began nearly 30 years ago, and has been supported over the years by tens of thousands of activists and regular folks who were frustrated with the litter and wasting of resources resulting from the explosive growth of the 'throw-away' beverage container.
Granted, a nickel does not buy what it did 30 years ago, and beverage containers represent just a fraction of the litter and waste generated by our throw-away society. But the 'Nickel Bottle Bill' represents both a substantive and symbolic tool for building a sustainable society.
Substantively, California's unique 'curbside friendly' Bottle Bill provides both consumers and recyclers with a direct financial incentive to recycle. Last year the program paid more than $400 million in refund values directly to consumers and not-for-profit organizations. But more than simply a 'bounty system', California's unique, 'curbside friendly' Bottle Bill provides market-based financial support for much of the state's recycling infrastructure. Curbside recycling programs will receive nearly $100 million in funding from the Bottle Bill this year.
The department outlined the change in refund value as well as other changes to the program resulting from the legislation in a notice sent October 30, to program stakeholders.
So where do we go from here? I'm interested in your thoughts on where you think California should go with the Bottle Bill. Expansion? Plastic Containers? Wine & Liquor? Milk. Let me know what you think.