May 14 - Bottle Bill: Mixed Results for CA Container Recycling

While the latest CA Beverage Container Recycling Rates show continued high--82% overall—container recycling rates, the picture is less rosy for Plastic Beverage Containers.

For the 3rd year in a row, plastic container recycling rates have fallen (from a high of 73% in 2009, to just 67% in 2011). And for the first time plastic container market share (44%) has surpassed Aluminum cans (42%), as the dominant beverage container type.

These two trends mean that we are effectively trading containers with high recycling rates (90% recycling for aluminum cans and 84% for glass bottles) for plastic beverage containers with lower (67%) recycling rates.

Additionally, special interest ‘loopholes’ in the beverage container recycling law means more than 250 million recyclable plastic bottles remain exempt from the program.

Despite existing opportunities, incentives and infrastructure, more than 350,000 tons of plastic containers continue to be littered and landfilled. This is bad for our environment as well as our economy.

California-based plastic processors are struggling to get a sufficient supply of recycled plastic to meet manufacturer demand. Increasing the use of recycled plastic in California manufacturing means both jobs and reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

The cost of ‘not recycling’ these plastic containers--to local governments and the environment--exceeds $250 million annually. But if we were to recycle this same material, it as has an economic value to California’s economy of more than $172 million.

The choice is simple. It’s time to close the loopholes and update California’s proven plastic container recycling incentives.

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