California’s increased beverage container refunds bring more returns

An increase in the refund available for empty beverage containers prompted Californians to achieve a significant jump in recycling in the first half of 2007. In the process, they also created a substantial environmental benefit, according to a new report just released by the state Department of Conservation.

The six-month Report of Beverage Container Recycling & Significant Carbon Reductions shows California’s beverage container recycling rate rose six percentage points, to 71 percent, from January-June 2007. By recycling billions of aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles during that time, Californians decreased greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 230,000 passenger cars from the roadways for a year.

The DOC compared the recycling rate of the first six months of 2006 and the first six months of 2007 to determine the beverage container recycling rate change.

Each year, the report says, California consumes 657 million barrels of oil and emits 492 million metric tons of greenhouse gas. By recycling nearly 7 billion beverage containers from January-June, Californians saved the equivalent of 2.5 million barrels of oil, and reduced emissions equivalent to 293,000 metric tons of carbon related to greenhouse gas.

The increase in California Refund Value took effect on January 1, 2007, and raised the refund consumers receive for each beverage container from $.04 to a $.05 for containers less than 24 ounces and $.08 to $.10 for containers 24 ounces and larger. Assembly Bill 3056 also provided funding for a statewide marketing campaign to educate Californians about CRV and to promote recycling awareness and participation.

Most beverages packaged in glass, aluminum and plastic, such as soft drinks, water, beer, sports drinks, juices and coffee and tea drinks, are included in the CRV program. Notable exceptions are milk, wine and distilled spirits.

All aspects of the state’s beverage container recycling program are paid for with unclaimed refunds of CRV beverage containers, at no cost to the state’s general fund.