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October 13, 2009

The Record Searchlight: Redding.com

Governor vetoes recycling bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stunned some in the industry Monday when he vetoed a bill that would have increased incentives in the state's recycling program.

In a written message to the Senate, Schwarzenegger said his administration has offered solutions for the state's hemorrhaging Beverage Container Recycling Fund, fixes that SB 402 did not contain.

"I am really disappointed," Jim Smith, owner of Big Foot Recycling Center in Redding, said Monday. "We have been operating as if the revenue would be forthcoming. We were burning capital to not lay off people, to commit to recycling centers. The public seemed to like it."

SB 402 author Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said the bill would have added roughly 1.5 billion additional beverage containers to the state's recycling program and help plug the fund's $200 million hole. The Department of Conservation was forced in July to implement an 85 percent reduction in all program funding, which includes handling and processing fees made to recyclers. The subsidies help offset the cost to recycle.

But Schwarzenegger was concerned that the bill would include fruit and vegetable juices and soy-based drinks - products that are often dietary necessities for families. What's more, wine and distilled spirit bottles would remain exempt from the Beverage Container Recycling Program.

Tomra Systems of Norway planned to open a new recycling center in Redding, on the site of an old gas station at South Market and Elmwood streets. The company spent about $400,000 to get the site ready.

But Tomra abandoned Redding as a result of the poor economy and California's fiscal crisis. Company President Adrian White said he might be willing to rescue his plans for Redding if Schwarzenegger signed SB 402.

With 19 recycling centers in Tehama and Shasta counties, Smith of Big Foot Recycling doesn't think he will have to close any of his facilities.

"Now it will be real interesting to see which recycling centers are able to stay open and which are not," Smith said.

Schwarzenegger, however, is offering some help to recyclers like Smith. The governor has ordered the Department of Conservation to adopt emergency regulations that will adjust the payment schedule for distributors from every three months to every two months.

"What little there is," Smith said of the money.


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