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Climate and Environment

Have Empty Bottles And Cans? California Could Pay You Double To Recycle Them

A close-up of multiple large transparent plastic bags of empty beverage cans.
Empty cans and bottles for recycling are piled up at a collection point.
(Ed Jones
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Recyclable bottles and cans could soon be worth more.

A new proposal unveiled by Gov. Gavin Newsom would temporarily double the California Redemption Value (CRV) refund for bottles and cans. That means for every CRV nickel you pay when you buy a beverage container, you'll get a dime back when you recycle it. Bottles with a CRV of 10 cents will get you 20 cents when recycled.

The plan is part of California's upcoming budget proposal in June and still needs legislative approval to take effect. If enacted, the plan will direct $155 million to expand mobile recycling and reverse vending machines.

The funds come from a surplus of $600 million in unclaimed nickel and dime deposits on beverage containers, said Rachel Wagoner, director of CalRecycle. All of the canned and bottled drinks Californians consumed at home during COVID-19 restrictions have added up.

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“Those purchasing rates have gone up really significantly by billions of containers over the last couple of years during the pandemic,” Wagoner said. “That's why we came forward — the governor wanted to come forward with a proposal to get that money back to consumers.”

The proposal is meant to encourage more people to recycle and boost California's recycling rate, which is at about 70%.

“We're really looking at this as an opportunity to get people excited about the program again, which then hopefully generates a much higher recycling rate. I'm aiming at 100%,” Wagoner said.

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