Recyclers feeling the squeeze

CalRecycle tightens rules on recycling beverage containers

Jerry Morano (left), recycling director at Fair Street Recycling, wants the public to know about some significant changes to California’s recycling program.

Jerry Morano (left), recycling director at Fair Street Recycling, wants the public to know about some significant changes to California’s recycling program.

FILe photo by christine g.k. lapado-breglia

Recyclers feeling the squeeze
Jerry Morano, who is the recycling director at Fair Street Recycling, alerted me to certain issues facing recycling centers in the state of California—and, consequently, people who bring recyclables to such centers—as a result of recent changes made by CalRecycle (aka the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery).

“It would be helpful for us as a recycler [for] the public to know the changes at recycling centers concerning CRV [California Redemption Value],” said Morano (pictured) in a recent email. “First off, we can no longer accept any loads of CRV aluminum or plastic over 100 pounds (1,000 pounds of CRV glass) [in a single day].” Prior to Jan. 1, recyclers could redeem up to 500 pounds per day of CRV aluminum or plastic, and 2,500 pounds of glass.

Additionally, as of Nov. 1 of last year, recycling centers “can only accept segregated CRV material for recycling,” Morano said. “In the past, you were able to mix scrap aluminum, plastic and glass with segregated CRV material and get paid a commingled rate. No more.

“All of this is due to the CRV fund going broke. The ag checkpoints coming into the state are now inspecting for loads of recyclables being brought in to defraud the program as well. Lots of changes, but not much information being spread.”

As you can perhaps imagine, the slashing of the amount of aluminum, glass and plastic redeemable in any one day is very likely to affect those who depend on the redemption money. Morano sent me a link to a Jan. 18 Los Angeles Times article titled “New redemption law puts squeeze on bottle and can recyclers” that speaks to precisely that issue.

For the Times piece, writer Gale Holland interviewed a man—who works as a janitor—who depended on the $200 he earned roughly every week from selling a load of recycled cans and bottles; since Jan. 1, he makes only $50 to $60 per load.

Another of Holland’s interviewees—a man who is homeless since being laid off from his job—was living off of the $15 he earned per day from recycling. “Now, with an income of $6 or $7 on the best of days, [he] said he is eating out of the garbage,” wrote Holland.

As for Morano’s comment about the CRV fund going broke, an August article in Resource Recycling magazine stated that “without major reforms to the current bottle deposit system, [California’s] recycling fund will be insolvent by March 2015.” Explanation: CalRecycle’s Beverage Container Recycling Fund—which collects all the CRV deposits paid for beverage containers and pays out money when the containers are redeemed—is becoming depleted due to the current high rate of CRV-container recycling. “Redemption rates neared 83 percent for beverage containers during FY 2011-2012,” said the article. The break-even percentage for CalRecycle is roughly 70 percent.

As Morano pointed out, CalRecycle is attempting to staunch the bleeding of its CRV fund in part by requiring “anyone transporting into California a load of empty plastic or aluminum beverage containers weighing 25 pounds or more, or 250 pounds or more of glass, to pass through a California Department of Food and Agriculture quarantine inspection station and obtain and carry proof of inspection,” as a CalRecycle press release put it. Inspectors are looking for “unscrupulous individuals” bringing in from other states ineligible containers—containers for which no CRV was paid—and redeeming them in California.

Go to to learn more about the local Mount Lassen chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Next meeting: Feb. 5; theme is “A Botanical Trip to Cuba.”