Tag Archives: recyclers

Plastics News: Auditor recommends changes to California container recycling program

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: November 12, 2014 5:02 pm ET
Updated: November 12, 2014 5:14 pm ET

California’s beverage container recycling program, at nearly 30 years old, is broken.

With cost overruns of $100 million in three of the last four years, one key problem is paying out refunds for beverage containers that were actually purchased out-of-state and never subject to California’s deposit system, according to a new report from the California State Auditor.

Last fiscal year’s cost overrun at the program overseen by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery was nearly $29 million, the report states.

“CalRecycle needs to better respond to the fraud risk presented by the importation of out-of-state beverage containers for recycling refund payments,” warns a summary of the report issued by the auditor’s office.

California has never expected every single one of the containers subject to the deposit law would actually be recycled. And it’s that difference in what is paid by consumers and what is actually refunded that has historically covered operational costs of the program.

A break-even point for the program is a 75-percent recycling rate, but CalRecycle reported a recycling rate of 85 percent in 2013, the auditor’s report states.

“Based on that recycling rate, the revenue collected from beverage distributors is no longer adequate to cover recycling refund payments and other mandated spending,” the summary states.

While the problem is now years in the making, the program has been able to stay solvent thanks to what the auditor calls “significant loan repayments, primarily from the State’s General Fund.”

The state General Fund and Air Pollution Control Fund, at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year, owed the beverage container program $497 million. But repayments in recent years have brought that balance down to $82 million.

These loan repayments have allowed the beverage container program to continue operating, but have also masked the program’s cash flow problems, the auditor reported. “Based on the recent financial condition of the beverage program … immediate action is needed to ensure the continued viability of the beverage program,” the auditor warns.

Solutions include reducing or eliminating subsidies to beverage makers, “requiring them to pay the full cost of processing fees” paid to recycling centers and other entities, the report states.

The state currently subsidizes more than half of thee processing fees, and eliminating that subsidy would add $60 million to $80 million.

Another way to raise revenue for the program that started in 1986 could be the elimination of a 1.5 percent administrative fee that beverage distributors are allowed to retain. This could add another $18 million to the coffers, the auditor’s report states.

In total, the audit report has identified potential savings and additional revenue of up to $233 million annually for the program.

CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen, in a letter to the auditor, said the agency “generally agrees” with recommendations regarding recycling program fraud detailed in the report “and will strive to implement them over time.”

Read the original post here: http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20141112/NEWS/141119970/auditor-recommends-changes-to-california-container-recycling-program

Comment by Danny Clark:

While ENSO supports recycling efforts and recycling (when done correctly) is a key part of an overall sustainability mission it begs the question why are recyclers in other states able to run a successful recycling business but in California the recyclers can’t? Maybe its time to eliminate the subsidies to recyclers in California and put that money towards a better use?

Are you confused about recycling?

Are You Confused About What to Recycle?

When is the last time you asked yourself or someone else if something was recyclable?  It a common question and one that gets many different answers depending on what packaging or material you are asking the question about.

Most recycling programs will have information readily available to the public on what they will accept in the recycle bins.  This list however is quite small and becomes apparent that what recyclers are looking for is the cream of the crop.  If you are anything like me you put everything in the recycle bin and hope that it will motivate recyclers to start taking more material.

People in general want to do the right thing and truthfully speaking it’s a great feeling to know we are doing our part to help recycle when we do make the effort to recycle.  I suppose someday recycling will become a mainstream religion – to a very few it already is.  I often wonder what recycling would look like if people got paid for their recyclable materials?  After all for decades aluminum cans provided a source of additional funds to many and this resulted in very high recycling rates for aluminum cans.  It would sure make it a little more worth the effort to sort through and place materials in the proper bin.

The April 1st, 2013 issue of Plastics News had a great Viewpoint article by Don Loepp which addressed this very issue as a discussion point from the March Plastics Recycling Conference in New Orleans.


If we are going to have recycling be a big part of the environmental solution to the growing global plastic pollution issue we are going to have to get aggressive about our recycling efforts and recyclers will need to be a stakeholder in the bigger environmental mission as much as they are with the business focus of recycling.  All materials have the potential to be recycled, let involve state and federal programs to bring innovation to the market so that recyclers can accept all materials and have markets to sell those materials.

We’d love to hear what you think?

Plastics recycling: Are you still confused?