Last year Californians recycled a record 16 billion containers, pushing the recycling rate up to 74%. That’s approximately one million tons of glass, plastic and metals diverted from landfills and utilized as a manufacturing feedstock, reducing energy and pollution and conserving resources.
But just last week, the Department of Finance has proposed a series of draconian cuts in Bottle Bill funding for local recycling programs. Specifically, Finance proposes to reduce expenditures for local governments, non-profits and private recyclers by $120 million annually, including the elimination of almost $40 in market-based payments to recyclers. The cuts are motivated the department in order to protect a proposal by the Governor to ‘loan’ roughly $132 million in beverage container recycling funds to the state’s General Fund.
These cuts are unnecessary and short-sighted. By cutting and/or eliminating the very programs that have helped bring about the record growth in recycling, the end result will be more litter and waste and higher local disposal costs.
Californians Against Waste (CAW) has prepared an alternative that maintains core recycling program priorities, while closing loopholes and extending the successful recycling incentives of the program to roughly 2 billion additional beverage containers sold annually. The CAW proposal will reprioritize expenditures to strengthen recycling while balancing revenues and expenditures. The CAW alternative is completely self-funded and will not require any General Fund payments or transfers. Features of the CAW Alternative include:
- Increasing recycling and program revenue by closing loopholes and expanding scope of program coverage to include additional beverage containers.
- Increased efficiency and reduced administrative costs by merging the program with the California Integrated Waste Management Board under CAL EPA.
- Reduce and eliminate non-essential and poor performing discretionary grant programs.
- Partially reinstate processing fee provisions to require beverage producers to pay a greater share of the net cost of recycling their containers.
- Maintains priority recycling funds for local governments, conservation corps, and recycling market development.