Sep 22 - Bigger, Better Bottle Bill Fix Awaiting Action by Schwarzenegger

The California Legislature has sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature a measure to expand and update the State’s bottle and can recycling law.

SB 402 (Wolk-Skinner), which passed both houses of the state legislature on the final day of the 2009 legislative session, would add roughly 1.5 billion additional beverage containers to the recycling program, including: juices and other drinks sold in paperboard and aseptic packaging; large bottles of 100% fruit juice; as well as soy, nut, rice and other grain beverages, regardless of container type.

If signed, the California Bottle Bill would be the first in the US, and only the second in North America (after British Columbia), to add paper cartons and aseptic beverage boxes to their Bottle Bill.

Additionally, the measure would also extend the existing 10 cent redemption value to containers 20 ounces and larger. The current threshold is 24 ounces and larger.

SB 402 would also maintain current annual funding levels for: recycling center handling fees (1 cent/container); local conservation corps ($22 million); curbside recycling ($15 million); local government grants ($10.5 million), and market development ($25 million). Earlier this year, the Department of Conservation had proposed an 85% reduction in recycling program expenditures. The cuts were prompted by a combination of higher recycling rates and General Fund loans that had severely depleted ‘unredeemed’ funds. The program is on track to achieve an 80 percent recycling rate this year.

With an estimated 10,000 recycling related jobs at stake following the Department’s announced cuts, SB 402 was supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders that included: recyclers, local governments, environmental groups, retailers, large and small beer producers and glass bottle manufacturers. Governor Schwarzenegger has until October 11 to sign the legislation.

California’s unique beverage container recycling law was enacted in 1987 with just a one cent refund value. Over the years it has been updated and expanded, and is now one of the largest and most successful Bottle Bill program in North America . Today the refund value is 5 cents on most containers, and 10 cents on containers 24 ounces and larger. Since 1999, the program has covered all waters, fruit juices, sports drinks and RTD’s.

Features that distinguish the California model from traditional ‘deposit’ laws: beverage manufactures pay a ‘processing fee’ to cover the net cost of recycling that varies by container type; retailers can (and most do) contract with recycling service providers to collect containers in store parking lots, rather than inside the store; curbside and other collection program operators are paid the same refund value for containers collected in those systems. In 2008, California’s curbside recycling program operators received more than $173 million in funding from the Bottle Bill.

Several reports by US EPA, GRRN, and others have found the California approach to be the nation’s most cost effective.

SB 402 was co-authored by Senator Lois Wolk, Senator Ellen Corbett, and Assembly Member Nancy Skinner.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Governor Schwarzenegger to Sign SB 402 (Wolk) Retain California's Recycling Jobs and Infrastructure

Without SB 402, California will lose green recycling jobs and the state will be forced to slash funding for recycling.

Read the Press Release.