Special Report: June 10, 2007

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


SACRAMENTO –  As of July 1, the California Refund Value consumers pay at the checkout stand for aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers rises to equal the amount refunded at recycling centers.  CRV is now a nickel for containers less than 24 ounces and a dime for containers 24 ounces and larger. 

Since AB 2020 established the state’s recycling program in 1986, more than 180 billion aluminum, glass, and plastic beverage containers have been recycled in the state. In 2006 alone, Californians recycled an all-time record 13.2 billion beverage containers, 60 percent of the 21.9 billion that were purchased in the state.

“If we add together all of the containers that have been recycled since the program began, there are enough to fill up all lanes of Interstate 5 with a wall of bottles and cans 14 feet high, the entire length of the state,” Department of Conservation Director Bridgett Luther said.

Nevertheless, billions of bottles and cans also end up in landfills each year.

“When people fail to recycle, it’s not just a waste of money,” Luther said. “It also means lost energy savings, because recycling saves energy, and those valuable raw materials for manufacturing are tossed away forever.”

Prior to passage of AB 2020 passed in September of 1986, there was no incentive to recycle bottles and cans other than the “scrap value” recycling centers were willing to pay. CRV was introduced in 1987, which allowed Californians to collect one cent for each beverage container recycled. In 1988, Californians recycled 6.1 billion CRV containers.

CRV later increased to 2.5 cents on containers less than 24 ounces and 4 cents on containers 24 ounces and larger. From 1991-2003, Californians averaged more than 10 billion recycled CRV containers per year. When CRV increased to 4 cents (8 cents on larger containers) in 2004, the number jumped to 12 billion recycled.

Most beverages packaged in glass, aluminum and plastic -- such as soft drinks, water, beer, sports drinks, juices and coffee and tea drinks -- are included in the CRV program. Notable exceptions are milk, wine and distilled spirits.

Californians have several convenient options for recycling and redeeming CRV bottles and cans, primarily the approximately 2,100 certified recycling centers statewide. Consumers who choose to forego reclaiming their CRV have a variety of recycling options, including neighborhood curbside recycling programs and various drop-off locations through which bottles and cans are redeemed by the entities that collect them. To find the nearest certified recycling center, curbside or drop-off program, visit www.bottlesandcans.com or call the Department of Conservation toll-free hotline, 1-800-RECYCLE.

A recent recycling innovation from DOC is the free “Recycling Starter Kit” available to businesses, schools, gyms, and office buildings. California businesses interested in starting a beverage container recycling program can receive the Recycling Starter Kit by ordering online at www.bottlesandcans.com or calling 1-800-RECYCLE.

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.