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November 11, 2009

Sacramento Bee

Suit challenges raids on beverage container recycling fund

The string of lawsuits challenging special fund raids and bookkeeping gimmicks in the state's current budget has grown longer with a suit by beverage container recycling centers.

The recyclers, in a suit filed this week in Alameda County Superior Court, contend that the state has siphoned $415 million, including $99.4 million this year, from the funds that have accrued from deposits on beverage containers, threatening the financial viability of the recycling program.

Previous raids on the funds were technically loans, but they have not been repaid as pledged, and this year the Department of Conservation decreed that the account now contains "inadequate monies...to make full payments," ordering reductions in payments to recyclers.

"California's recycling program has been a national model for success, helping reduce litter, increase recycling rates and create hundreds of green jobs," said Adrian White, president of one of the recyclers that filed suit, Tomra Pacific. "But recent actions by the state threaten to dismantle the program, destroying one of California's landmark environmental achievements."

"If a solution is not reached soon, more recyclers will be forced to shut their doors," White said. "That means consumers who pay recycling deposits will have no convenient way to get their deposits returned, and hundreds of high-quality green jobs will be eliminated. It's a situation California consumers can't afford."


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