California Recycling program

According to a plan senators approved on Wednesday, California would add wine and distilled spirits containers to its troubled recycling program while offering beverage retailers another choice for collecting empty bottles and cans. However, detractors claim that the bill would also distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses that don’t require the incentives.

Waste Conversion

Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, who sponsored the legislation in the Assembly, called it “a huge chance” to avert hundreds of tons of waste from landfills. “This legislation will be a giant leap.”

The proposal by Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins also allows distributors to create a cooperative organization to collect the containers as an alternative to the present legislation that mandates merchants to take back the empty containers.

In recent years, fewer consumers have been able to receive their deposit returns due to the closure of some community recycling facilities. According to the consumer protection organization, numerous supermarket stores have refused to accept returned empties in-store.

Without verbal opposition, the proposal passed with 54-0 votes in the Assembly and 38-0 votes in the Senate. Although the bill doesn’t specify how the cooperative will operate, it does mandate that distributors submit their plan for state regulators’ approval. It would increase the penalty for violating the law from $1,000 to $5,000 per day and for intentional violations from $5,000 to $10,000 per day.

When purchasing a 12-ounce (355 milliliters) bottle or can in California, buyers pay a cent, and for containers larger than 24 ounces, they pay a dime (709 milliliters). To ensure that the bottles and cans are recycled into new items rather than ending up in landfills, they are intended to receive their money back when they return the bottles and cans. The plan calls for a 25-cent deposit and reimbursement on bottles of wine and distilled spirits sold in boxes, bags, or pouches.

The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates deposit programs that include those containers already exist in Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, and Vermont.


According to estimates from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle, wine and spirits would cost the state more than $6 million annually starting in 2024 and add about $18 million more annually to the recycling fund.

In addition to state-funded mobile recycling initiatives in rural areas and other areas with few recycling alternatives, the Newsom administration has proposed subsidies for automated recycling machines, sometimes reverse vending machines, at high schools, colleges, and retail establishments. To promote recycling and return a share of the approximately $600 million in unclaimed deposits, it has also suggested temporarily doubling the returns; however, this double refund is not included in the present proposal.

Consumer Watchdog, Container Recycling Institute, and The Story of Stuff Project objected that Atkins’ proposal contained too much pork for businesses, costing close to $400 million over the following five years for quality incentives and market development that the organizations contend are unnecessary.

The largest glass container company in the country, Gallo Glass Company, owned by E&J Gallo Winery, would receive $300 million of that, according to their claims.

Consumer Watchdog’s Liza Tucker stated that consumer deposits “shouldn’t underwrite extremely profitable firms like Gallo.” “These funds benefit the larger recyclers and manufacturers, not the current redemption facilities dying on the vine.”

The Recycling Institute withdrew its sponsorship because it believed the awards would make it more difficult for the program to be financially sustainable. The distributors’ cooperative provision of the measure, similar to earlier legislative proposals, received support from Consumer Watchdog. If the rules are correctly written and applied, that alternative “may work to create improved access,” the organization claimed.

Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray argued that the lengthy, intensive deliberations on this matter “were done the right way.” “We’ve found a solution that’s excellent for the business sector and California.”

Without mentioning the grants, Atkins claimed that her bill’s inclusion of wine and liquor containers would “avoid consumer confusion,” potentially more than double the current 30% recycling rate for those containers. She also said that her plan offers retailers “a new way to comply” with the state’s recycling regulations.

By prohibiting cash payments from processors to recyclers, a second bill introduced by Newsom aims to eliminate recycling fraud.

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Hussain Indo

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