As California's Bottle Bill celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, recycling rates are tumbling as recycling centers close due to inaction in the state legislature to fix the program, according to Californians Against Waste (CAW).
CAW, a non-profit that works to reduce pollution, reduce waste, increase recycling, and protect our environment, cited former Assembly member Burt Margolin (D-Los Angeles), the author of the Assembly Bill 2020.
"The legislation set a goal of 80% beverage container recycling, which we exceeded in 2008, reaching as high as 85% in (2013). But as of mid-2017, recycling rates have slid backwards and now are at 77%. There's an easy fix the Legislature can make in the next few weeks to reverse that trend," he was reported to have said.
According to the organisation, ore than 560 recycling centers have closed during the past two years –approximately 20% of the state-wide total. These closures have been driven by a two-year drop in recycler reimbursement levels.
As a result, more than 2.5 million fewer containers per day are said to be being recycled this year than in the last reporting period.
CAW noted that legislation advanced by Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Phil Ting and supported by the Brown Administration is seeking to address these issues. However, it was set aside during recent budget negotiations and will die unless taken up by the Legislature before it adjourns in mid-September.
California's program is the world's second largest, second only to Germany. Californians recycle more than 50 million beverage containers each day – one out of every five bottles recycled in the United States.
To date, more than 362 billion containers have been recycled, preventing the emissions of more than 41 million tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent to saving the use of nearly 96 million barrels of oil.
With more than 10,000 Californians directly employed in container recycling operations, it generated $305 million in recycler revenue in 2016 alone (half of that revenue from curbside operations).
Annual revenue of $1.6 billion goes to the State of California, with $20 million annually supporting recycled glass and plastic market development/manufacturing. Another $18 million goes to Community Conservation Corps, local government and non-profits.
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