Bottle Bill Resource Guide

Name  California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (AB 2020) 
Purpose To encourage recycling and reduce litter. Program goal of 80% recycling rate.
Enacted 9/29/1986
Implemented 9/1/1987
Beverages Covered Beer, malt, wine coolers & distilled spirits coolers, all non-alcoholic beverages, except milk. Excludes vegetable juices over 16 oz.
Beverages Not Covered

Milk, 100% fruit juice ≥46 oz, vegetable juice ≥ 16 oz; beverages in refillable containers.

Containers Covered Aluminum, glass, plastic and bi-metal. Exempts refillables.
Amount of Deposit 5¢ for containers under 24 ounces;  10¢ for containers of 24 ounces or more.
Reclamation System State-certified recyclers include redemption centers, registered curbside operations, dropoff sites, and retailers (see "Retail redemption" section below).
Unredeemed Deposits Property of state program (CalRecycle): used for program administration, program payments, and grants.
Handling Fees Handling fees are paid by CalRecycle to specific handling fee sites. Handling fee effective July 1, 2020 is $0.00934 per beverage container redeemed [a].
Other Fees
  Processing fees, effective 1/1/20*   Processing payments, effective 7/1/20**
Material Per container   Per pound Per ton
Aluminum: n/a   n/a n/a
Glass: $0.00375   $0.07662 $153.24
#1 PET: $0.00066   $0.19318 $386.36
#2 HDPE: $0.00602   $0.38298 $765.96
#3 PVC: $0.05014   $0.74820 $1,496.40
#4 LDPE: $0.01696   $1.06438 $2,128.76
#5 PP: $0.05573   $0.94316 $1,886.32
#6 PS: $0.00348   $0.58680 $1,173.60
#7 Other Plastic: $0.13610   $0.64912 $1,298.23
Bimetal: $0.04799   $0.59805 $1,196.10
* Processing fees are paid by beverage manufacturers to CalRecycle, per container sold [b].
** Processing payments are made by CalRecycle to all certified recyclers when the cost of recycling exceeds the value of material, per ton redeemed. Glass, PET, HDPE: [c]. All other materials [d].
Program Success

Redemption rates:*

Year** Aluminum Glass #1 PET #2 HDPE Overall***
2019e 74% 45% 65% 47% 67%
2018 76% 47% 63% 41% 66%
2017 81% 49% 64% 41% 68%
2016 86% 50% 68% 48% 72%
2015 91% 51% 66% 47% 72%
2014 91% 57% 60% 61% 71%
2013 92% 61% 61% 35% 74%

* Returned for refund at recycling centers and supermarket sites; excludes CRV containers recycled through curbside and dropoff programs.

**Figures above are derived by multiplying fiscal year material-specific recycling rates [e] by calendar year material-specific weight-based participant shares for  recycling centers and supermarkets [f]. 2019 is an estimate based on 2019 recycling rates and 2018 participant shares.

***Overall redemption rate is the FY overall recycling rate multiplied by calendar year material-specific unit-based participant shares ("CRV out") [f].


The recycling rates shown below are from data published by CalRecycle [e]. Approximately 88% of the CRV beverage containers recycled were redeemed for a refund at redemption centers or retail stores, while about 12% were recycled via curbside and dropoff programs.    

Calendar Year Aluminum Glass #1 PET #2 HDPE Other Overall
2019 81% 67% 74% 68% 17% 75%
2018 83% 66% 74% 65% 19% 76%
2017 84% 69% 73% 64% 18% 75%
2016 91% 72% 76% 64% 17% 80%

 

 

Details

  • Distributors pay a per container fee (CRV) of 5¢ <24 oz and 10¢ >24 oz into a state fund. The fee was originally 1¢ for all containers and was amended in 1990 to 2.5¢ <24 oz and 5¢ >24 oz. In 2003 it was amended again to 4¢ and 8¢ respectively, and in 2007 to 5¢ and 10¢.
  • Consumers pay a deposit of 5¢ for each container < 24 ounces and 10¢ for each container >24 ounces.
  • Consumers may receive a refund of 5¢ for each container of less than 24 ounces redeemed, and 10¢ for each container of 24 ounces or greater redeemed.

Consumers have the right to be paid per container when bringing in 50 containers or less in a single load. Some recyclers, at their discretion, may redeem more than 50 containers by count. If the recycler declines to pay by count for more than 50 containers  per visit, payment is based on the weight of the materials delivered for redemption.

Handling fees are paid to the operators of supermarket redemption sites, rural redemption sites, and non-profit recycling centers to help cover the costs of operating their redemption system. Handling fees are calculated every two years  by subtracting the cost per container (for recycling centers that do not receive handling fees) from the cost per container of those that do receive handling fees [a].

Processing payments are paid to all redemption centers and to curbside programs to help cover the costs of recycling materials with a low scrap value. Processing payment amounts vary by container type and are determined annually based on audited data and scrap market prices. Part of the processing payments are supplied by distributors' processing fees, but the majority of processing payments come from unredeemed deposits. Unredeemed deposits are also used to administer the system and fund education programs [d].

Processing fees are a specific percentage of the processing payment, determined by the recycling rate of the container type. Beverage distributors pay the processing fee into the recycling fund [b].

Retail redemption: generally speaking, full-line retailers ("beverage dealers") who sell a variety of groceries  with gross annual sales of $2 million or more are required to redeem beverage containers on site (in-store or in the parking lot) unless there is a state-certified redemption center* located in a convenience zone consisting of the area of a half-mile radius around the store, or a 3-mile radius in rural areas. A retailer/dealer in an unserved convenience zone (one without a functioning redemption center) may choose, after a 60-day grace period, to pay CalRecycle $100 per day in lieu of redeeming containers on site or establishing a redemption center in the convenience zone. For more detail on retailer/dealer requirements and exemptions, please visit the CalRecycle website [g].

* Redemption centers, termed "recycling centers" by CalRecycle, may be operated by individuals, for-profit businesses, or non-profit organizations.

Importance of CA program nationally

Since implementation of the deposit program, California's overall beverage container recycling rates have increased significantly: from 52% in 1988 to 75% in 2019. The number of CRV containers recycled increased from 13 billion in 2006 to more than 18.4 billion in 2019. These containers comprise over 20% of all the bottles and cans recycled nationally (90 billion) in 2019. In other words, 1 out of 5 beverage containers recycled in the United States comes from California's deposit program. 

Footnotes

[a] "Handling Fee Changes, Effective July 1, 2020.” CalRecycle, June 15, 2020.

[b] "2020 Processing Fees."  CalRecycle, December 16, 2019. 

[c] "3rd Quarter 2020 Processing Payment Adjustments." CalRecycle, June 15, 2020.

[d] "2018 Processing Fee Cost Survey, Final Report." CalRecycle, June 1, 2020 and "2019 Processing Payments."  CalRecycle, December 16, 2019.

[e]  Reported recycling rates sourced as follows:

2019 and 2018: "Biannual Report of Beverage Container Sales, Returns, Redemption, and Recycling Rates." CalRecycle, May 11, 2020.

2017: "Biannual Report of Beverage Container Sales, Returns, Redemption, and Recycling Rates." CalRecycle, Dec. 19, 2019.

2016: "Biannual Report of Beverage Container Sales, Returns, Redemption, and Recycling Rates." CalRecycle, November 7, 2018.

[f]   Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Program Fact Sheets with "participant share" data are published annually. Links to fact sheets for 2018, 2017, 2016.    

[g] "Retailers/Dealers" section of CalRecycle Beverage Containers website