May 22, 2008
California Reaches Record Recycling Levels - Legislation Proposes Recycling Expansion
SB 1625 up for vote today
By Mark Murray
Californians Against Waste
The California Department of Conservation yesterday unveiled a new report showing that Californians are recycling a record number of beverage containers. More than 14.7 billion beverage containers were recycled by Californians in 2007, an 11% increase over 2006 levels, and 50% more than were recycled just five years ago.
Overall, nearly one million tons of glass, aluminum, and plastic beverage containers are now recycled in California under the state's 20 year old Container Recycling Law. No other state comes close to matching this level of container recycling.
We attribute the surge in container recycling levels to several factors. There is an increased concern for the environment and a desire by the public to do something-- including growing awareness of the role recycling can play in combating climate change. But certainly a huge factor in this recent surge has been legislation to increase the consumer refund value on containers to 5 and 10 cents.
In 2006, AB 3056 by Assembly Member Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), enacted a package of reforms and updates to the Container Recycling Law, including an increase in consumer refund values from 4 cents, to 5 cents on containers under 24 ounces, and 10 cents on containers 24 ounces and larger.
Hancock says: "It's great to see so many Californians responding positively to the new bottle bill. Recycling is a win-win for consumers and the environment. Recycling your bottles and cans saves money, reduces litter, and cuts pollution, including greenhouse gases. I'm proud to be part of such a successful policy."
Benefits of Recycling: Record high recycling levels in 2007 have:
• reduced atmospheric CO2 emissions by over 2 million tons;
• reduced other toxic air pollutants by over 1 million tons;
• reduced water pollution by almost 5 thousand tons;
• saved enough energy to power roughly 400,000 homes for one year.
With the record growth in recycling and the affirmation of recycling program success, legislation has been introduced to expand the scope of containers covered by the consumer recycling incentives.
Senate Bill 1625 by State Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) will expand California's recycling program to cover all plastic bottles regardless of contents or container type, which would add 6.5 billion containers to the program.
Corbett says of her bill: "Plastics are the fastest growing part of California's waste stream. By expanding the program to include additional plastics we significantly reduce our carbon dioxide levels and keep a significant amount of plastics out of our waterways and oceans."
Critical Recycling Vote Today
SB 1625 (Corbett) faces a key vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, May 22. The measure must then pass off the floor of the State Senate by Friday, May 30.
SB 1625 tracks 2007 recommendations by Governor Schwarzenegger's Ocean Protection Council, which proposed expanding the scope of plastic containers covered by the Container Recycling Law as a strategy for combating plastic litter, waste and marine debris.
The measure is supported by local governments, recycling companies, and environmental organizations.
SB 1625 is opposed by plastic bottle manufacturers and resin producers, as well as consumer product companies (Clorox, Procter & Gamble).
Mark Murray is the Executive Director of the environmental group Californians Against Waste (CAW). He lobbies for CAW and is recognized as one of the environmental communities leading experts on waste prevention and recycling policies. CAW has been actively involved in the development, negotiation and passage of virtually every piece of waste reduction and recycling legislation enacted in California.