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March 10, 2010

Plastics News

Calif. budgets funding for bottle recycling centers

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (March 10, 1:25 p.m. ET) -- It is only a stop-gap measure. But at least temporarily, the state of California will again pay the full amount of handling and processing fees to recycling centers that redeem bottles.

The bill, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on March 8, restores, through the end of June, funding to pay those fees.

The state had stopped paying handling fees to recycling centers Oct. 20 and reduced by 32 percent the amount it paid recycling centers in processing fees in the aftermath of an impasse between the governor and legislature over how to fund the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Fund.

Since 2002, the fund had loaned more than $500 million to the state general fund, leaving it unable to pay those fees in full. That financial squeeze led to the closing of more than 200 of the state’s 1,200 recycling centers. One-third of the bottles collected in California are collected through recycling centers. The rest are collected at curbside.

Schwarzenegger made it clear there is still work to be done to make the fund financially solvent.

“This bill does not make the necessary long-term changes to the program and, therefore, the fund remains vulnerable to further program reductions beginning in the 2010-11 fiscal year,” he wrote in a letter issued when he signed the bill. “Structural changes are essential before the next fiscal year begins in order to ensure that program participants do not see another loss in funding.”

In his budget proposal in January, Schwarzenegger recommend that, starting in 2014, the state replace manufacturer fees with a non-refundable, consumer recycling fee on beverage containers based on their cost of recycling. The state estimates that would generate more than $150 million annually. Schwarzenegger’s term in office ends Jan. 2, 2011.

The temporary bottle bill fix restores funding for full processing payments for all beverage containers, provides annual funding of $20 million to community civilian conservation corps and $10.5 million to cities and counties for litter abatement and recycling programs, $10 million for grants for market development for plastic containers, $44 million to cover handling fees for supermarket recycling centers and $15 million for curbside recycling programs, payable in December.

However, the bill also bars the division of recycling — which is part of the department of Resources Recycling and Recovery — from making grants during the 2010 and 2011 calendar years for beverage container recycling and litter reduction programs, state public education and information campaigns for litter reduction and recycling, and recycling market development programs.


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