A coalition of California recyclers filed suit against the State of California this week, arguing that "improper and ill-advised" transfers of funds from the state’s Bottle and Can Recycling Program have caused the Department of Conservation to eliminate funding for critical public and private sector recycling efforts promised by the statute. Those losses (more than $260 million since July 2008) threaten to undermine the state’s recycling efforts.
On June 23, 2009, the Department of Conservation advised program stakeholders and the legislature that there would be insufficient funds in the Beverage Container Recycling Fund (BCRF) to carry out program functions and that an across the board 85% reduction in expenditures was necessary to maintain program solvency. At the time, the proposed reductions were projected to total about $200 million.
In response to the crisis, the legislature adopted Senate Bill 402 (Wolk), that would have brought program revenues and expenditures back into balance by expanding recycling and reducing some non-core expenditures. Unfortunately, SB 402 was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Less than one week after Schwarzenegger announced his veto, the Department of Conservation announced it neeed to increase its reductions to 100% from 85%, eliminating all remaining funds for recycling.
The lawsuit would compel the state to begin repayment of funds to the program. The state has 30 days to respond.
More details to come.