Nov 20 - Californians Recycled 78% of Beverage Containers

Californians recycled a record 17 billion beverage containers in 2008-09, substantially more containers than are recycled in any other state. The overall 78% recycling rate is up from 69% in 2007-08.

California consumers paid about $1.2 billion in consumer refund values and about $818 million was paid directly back to consumers in refund values. Another $140 million was paid to curbside recycling programs for containers handled in curbside.

The growth in recycling has reduced the amount of 'unredeemed' funds available for supplemental recycling programs from $300 million in 2007-08 to about $200 million in 2008-09. However, that latter amount was further depleated by $132 million when Governor Schwarzenegger authorized a 'loan' of bottle bill funds to the state's general fund.

In July, the Department of Conservation announced an 85% reduction in recycling program expenditures. The reduction was revised to 100% in October after Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 402 (Wolk), legislation that would have expanded recycling and brought revenues and expenditures back into balance.

With the loss of recycling funding, the number of 'unserved' recycling zones has now reached 600 statewide. Hundreds of recycling workers have lost their jobs.

A coaltion of Recyclers recently sued the state to demand return of hundreds of millions of dollars that have been "borrowed" from the Beverage Container Recycling Fund in recent budget deals.