Today the Story of Stuff Project released a new report California’s Bottle Bill: The Path to Redemption, revealing a system failing Californians and the environment. A landmark environmental law, the state bottle bill has diverted billions of bottles from landfills, incinerators and the environment, but now finds itself languishing in serious decline.
The report shares the findings of a survey conducted with over two hundred of Story of Stuff Project’s Community members and highlights widespread barriers to Californians returning bottles and cans. These results are being reflected in a significant reserve of unredeemed deposits in state funds and a growing waste crisis: thirteen billion bottles and cans being lost each year.
California’s broken bottle bill needs to be fixed ASAP.
Urge CalRecycle – the state agency overseeing this system – to ensure retailers are taking back the containers they sell.
The report highlights a growing catalog of failures in the state bottle bill:
- It identifies that 48% of retailers that are required to participate in the program are failing to return the deposits on bottles and cans.
- This emerges as a staggering 71% of the state’s four thousand ‘convenience zones’ have no points of return.
- Dozens of testimonies from the report show that there is growing anger at the growing number of ‘recycling deserts’ where Californians have no return points available creating a de facto tax.
- By comparison, Michigan’s bottle bill has forty-four times more redemption points per capita than California.
- The difficulty associated with redeeming deposits has led to over half a billion dollars in unredeemed deposits in CalRecycles reserves.
- CalRecycle – the agency overseeing the program – has shown little interest in penalizing retailers that are failing to comply with their takeback responsibilities.
In 2021 Governor Newsom talked up California’s “circular economy” while the state lost over thirteen billion containers per year to landfills, incinerators and the environment. The state of affairs is unacceptable; Governor Newsom, the California legislature and CalRecycle must work to create meaningful changes to the program and ensure its long-term viability and performance. Read the report below to find out more and a series of recommendations for reform.