November 19, 2008

Contact: Mark Oldfield
              Ed Wilson

SACRAMENTO – Californians recycled a record 7.6 billion beverage containers between January and June 2008, raising the six-month California Refund Value (CRV) recycling rate to 76 percent. The jump is an increase of nearly 600 million beverage containers over the same period in 2007, when the recycling rate was 71 percent.

“This is an extraordinary accomplishment in a very short time,” Department of Conservation (DOC) Director Bridgett Luther said.  “Californians have really stepped up their recycling efforts and data shows we are on pace to set an all-time high for beverage container recycling volume in 2008. This means an all-time high in energy savings, natural resource conservation, and greenhouse gas reductions. It also means significant cash refunds for consumers who take their bottles and cans to recycling centers.”

Recycling rates were up for all material types: aluminum rose to 85 percent, compared to 83 percent between January and June 2007; glass rose to 79 percent from 71; and the most common plastic, No. 1 PET, increased to 63 percent from 58. 

The increased recycling rate represents a 16-percentage-point surge since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger enacted legislation (AB 3056, Hancock) in January 2007 in to increase the CRV payout from four to five cents for beverage containers under 24 oz. and from eight  to 10 cents for containers 24 oz. and greater.

Most recycled aluminum and glass is used to manufacture new cans and bottles, resulting in significant energy savings when compared to the mining, transportation and processing required to make the products out of raw materials. 

Plastic bottles, made from petroleum, are recycled into fiber for clothing and carpet, or pellets that can be made into items such as packaging or landscape materials, often at significant energy savings.

These savings translate into reduced greenhouse gas emissions – recycling 7.6 billion beverage containers is equivalent to removing nearly 300,000 cars from the road for a year. To determine the amount of emission reductions achieved through beverage container recycling, DOC uses the Waste Reduction Model developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. View the full report on recycling rates and carbon emission reductions.

“Since its inception in 1987, the CRV program has been a valuable tool in helping to meet the environmental challenges we face in California,” Luther said. “As we move toward the creation of a more sustainable future, it is important to remember that recycling is one simple step we can take every day to reach our goals.”

Despite the remarkable number of beverage containers Californians recycled in the first six months of 2008, there is the potential for even greater success.

“Whether we choose to take our empties to a recycling center for a refund, put them in a curbside recycling bin, or remember to recycle when we’re at work or out and about, the environment wins,” said Stephen Bantillo, assistant director in DOC’s Division of Recycling. 

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. DOC reports biannually on the redemption and recycling rates for each six-month period within a particular year, and for each full calendar year.

To find nearby beverage container buy-back centers, consumers can visit and enter their zip code, or call the DOC toll-free hotline, 1-800-RECYCLE.   

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