Hundreds of recycling locations have closed in the last 14 months due to a drop in commodity scrap values, and a subsequent failure of the Bottle Bill's ‘Processing Payment’ mechanism to offset that drop in value as promised by statute.
As a result:
• California’s recycling infrastructure is losing $1.25 million per month in reduced payments
• As a direct result of these reduced payments, 493 recycling locations have closed.
• Overall container recycling rates have fallen below 80% for the first time since 2008
• Rural areas have been particularly hard hit, with some areas of the state now having little or no practical redemption opportunity.
Closed centers have been replaced with pseudo-redemption at hundreds of retail locations, which has proven to be ineffectual, costly and inconvenient (for both consumers and grocery stores).
CalRecycle data shows that recycling levels have dropped across the state, with especially significant drops in Northern California, and consumers are foregoing as much as $335,000 per month unredeemed deposit (California Refund Value or “CRV”) compared to 2015.
A Two-Part (Short-term/Long-term) Legislative Solution is Needed
• A short term, temporary urgency bill is needed to address the flawed payment shortfall at the root of the recycling center closures.
• A second legislative measure or budget proposal should be pursued to update program priorities identified in the Governor’s Budget proposal
We believe elements of the Urgency fix should include:
1) Return the Recycling Cost basis for Processing Payments to 2015 levels and adjust processing payments retroactive to January 1, potentially increasing payments to recyclers by $17.9 million in 2017.
2) Authorize CalRecycle to offer Handling Fees to any recycler willing to set up business anywhere (mobile or stationary) within a currently unserved zone.
3) Temporarily suspend costly enforcement efforts on beverage dealers in recently unserved zones, redirecting staff and resources to recruiting and siting viable recycling center operators in unserved zones.
Without these urgent amendments, centers will remain closed, rates will continue to fall, consumer frustration will grow, and efforts to find a ‘comprehensive fix’ will continue to be undermined by a compromised infrastructure.
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