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NR 2004-38
December 20, 2004

Contact:  Ed Wilson
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
(916) 323-1886

RECYCLING RATE SURGES AS CALIFORNIANS
REDEEM MORE BOTTLES AND CANS THAN EVER BEFORE

SACRAMENTO – According to Department of Conservation statistics released today, Californians recycled 5.8 billion California Refund Value bottles and cans from January to July, the highest six-month figure ever.

“Recycling bottles and cans is one of the many ways Californians can express their commitment to the state’s environment and natural resources,” said California Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman. “It’s heartening to see recycling on the rise, and this should serve as a reminder to everyone to recycle where you live, work and play.”

Numbers for the first half of 2004 show recycling is up for aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers. If the trend continues, Californians will recycle more than one billion additional bottles and cans in 2004 than in 2003.

Overall, the recycling rate of CRV containers for the first six months of this year was 63 percent, up from 58 percent for the January-June period last year. By the end of 2003, the recycling rate had fallen to 55 percent, the lowest annual rate since the CRV program began in 1987.

The increase in the recycling rate can be tied to a number of things, including a higher refund value that took effect in January 2004. Ongoing efforts by the Department of Conservation have resulted in greater public awareness of the need to recycle and better customer service at thousands of privately owned recycling centers in the state. Also, DOC funding to cities and counties and grants to a variety of entities have resulted in more recycling opportunities, and outreach efforts have increased recycling at private businesses like office buildings and restaurants.

More than 19 billion CRV bottles and cans will be sold in California this year. Containers that aren’t recycled represent hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed CRV – cash that should go back into Californians’ pockets. In 2003, some eight billion bottles and cans were thrown away, worth an estimated $300 million in CRV.

In addition to the cash reclaimed through redemption, energy is saved as well: a single aluminum can, if recycled, saves enough electricity to run a television for nearly three hours.

Consumers and businesses can find nearby recycling centers by calling 1-800-RECYCLE or visiting www.bottlesandcans.com and using the zip code-based recycling center locater. California Refund Value is 4 cents on containers less than 24 ounces, 8 cents on containers 24 ounces and larger.

Most beverages packaged in aluminum, glass and plastic, such as soft drinks, water, beer, sports drinks, juices and coffee and tea drinks, are included in the CRV program. Among the notable products not included in the program are milk, wine and distilled spirits. For a comprehensive list of products subject to CRV, visit http://www.conservation.ca.gov/DOR/CRVinOutList.pdf

All aspects of the state’s beverage container recycling program are paid for with unclaimed refunds of CRV beverage containers, at no cost to the state's general fund.

In addition to promoting beverage container recycling, the Department of Conservation maps and studies earthquakes and other geologic phenomena; classifies areas containing mineral deposits; ensures reclamation of land used for mining; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells; and administers agricultural and open-space land conservation programs.

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