Bottle Bill

Background

California Bottle BillIn 1986, California enacted the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act, known as the “Bottle Bill”, which is administered by California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

Under California’s Bottle Bill, consumers pay a $0.05 deposit on beverage containers under 24 ounces and a $0.10 deposit for beverage containers over 24 ounces. That money is returned to consumers when they recycle their containers.

The deposit is essential to California’s high beverage container recycling rate and its low beverage container litter rate: by putting a monetary value on the recycling of beverage containers, consumers are much more likely to recycle, not litter or trash, beverage containers. Thanks to the bottle bill, nearly 300 billion aluminum, glass, and plastic beverage containers have been recycled since the program began.

Local Conservation Corps Funding

Certified Local Conservation Corps have long been major beneficiaries of bottle bill discretionary funding – funding that accrues from unredeemed bottle and can recycling and used to address recycling challenges, aid in increasing beverage container collection, and reduce beverage container litter in the waste stream.

The allocation of beverage container funds to Local Conservation Corps was the only statutory allocation made in the original law.

Bottle Bill funds have underwritten the costs of extensive event and venue recycling programs, the acquisition of equipment, supplies, and materials to fund programs for which funds would not be otherwise available, and, most importantly, have given Local Conservation Corpsmembers valuable work experience in the waste reduction and recycling field.

It is not a stretch to say that no other environmental program in the history of the state has had such a direct and valuable impact on the employment prospects of at-risk youth as the Bottle Bill funds administered by the Local Conservation Corps.

With Bottle Bill funding, this is what the local corps typically accomplish in a single fiscal year:

  • Service to nearly 3,000 businesses, special event venues, schools and offices
  • Collect more than 6.2 million pounds of CRV bottles and cans
  • Reduce more than 3.6 million pounds of trash through litter abatement projects
  • Collect more than 4.3 million pounds of mixed recycling (cardboard, paper, non-CRV plastics, metal)

Proposed Funding Cuts

Bottle Bill Funding cutsThe Bottle Bill program is currently operating under an approximate $100 million annual structural deficit, and CalRecycle is proposing to make across-the-board funding cuts to the funding as early as next year.

Any reduction in Bottle Bill funding would have a catastrophic impact on the local corps. The proposed reductions in funding for the Local Conservation Corps under CalRecycle’s most recent program report (January 2014) would result in Local Conservation Corps having to drastically reduce or eliminate altogether their recycling services provided to the community which simply cannot be replaced by commercial waste haulers. This would lead to higher rates of landfilling and reduced recycling rates locally – and potentially lead to Local Conservation Corps having to close their doors completely.

Under CalRecycle’s proposed funding cuts, the impacts on the local corps would be severe.

  • 742 jobs at local corps would be lost, which includes 649 corpsmember jobs statewide
  • 62% of those corpsmembers do not have a high school diploma and 90% are considered at-risk
  • The 13 certified local corps would have to abandon 6,800 recycling bins placed in government office, schools, restaurants and other customer locations
  • Put 106 recycling trucks and millions of dollars of equipment and infrastructure from balers to forklifts, conveyer belts to and other recycling machinery used for their regional recycling programs out-of-commission

Most importantly, reduced or eliminated Bottle Bill funding would effectively take away the local corps’ ability to leverage alternative funding ($4.8 million, collectively, in FY 2012/ 2013) for their programs, leaving them unable to rebound with alternative funding sources.

Local Corps have always been a part of California’s recycling program and we benefit the community directly. For decades we have employed our region’s most vulnerable youth in recycling collection, sorting, outreach, and education. They have helped to reduce litter, increase our recycling rate, increase our employment rate, and reduce hardship for our community’s high school dropouts, foster youth, and other at-risk young people. If the Bottle Bill funding is lost, our communities lose an invaluable program that provides green collar job training, academic instruction, and increased recycling for our community.

Solution

Under the Governor’s proposed budget for FY 14/15, Governor Brown is proposing to diversify the local corps’ funding by replacing our Bottle Bill funds with alternative recycling program revenues.

Specifically, the Governor is proposing to supplant $15 million of the local corps’ current Bottle Bill funding with $5 million from the Tire Recycling Management Fund, $8 million from the Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling Account, and $2 million from the Used Oil Recycling Fund. In essence, the Governor is proposing to make program cuts to the bottle bill while maintaining current funding levels with recycling monies for the local corps.

The local corps are working with CalRecycle and the Legislature on this proposal to ensure that these new funds can continue to support our current recycling programs. If the State Budget is enacted with this proposal, it will take time for the local corps to make any necessary adjustments in our recycling programs and appropriately train our staff and corpsmembers.

Therefore, we are asking the Legislature to provide the local corps with Bottle Bill funding through FY 14/15 in conjunction with the new recycling revenues so we have time to transition to using the new recycling funding sources.