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May 21, 2008

Contact: Ed Wilson
             Mark Oldfield

SACRAMENTO – Californians recycled a record 14.7 billion beverage containers in 2007, 1.5 billion more bottles and cans than in 2006, according to the state Department of Conservation. As a result, the annual recycling rate for California Refund Value aluminum, glass and plastic containers rose to 67 percent, up 7 percentage points from 2006.

“This is tremendous news for California and the environment,” DOC Director Bridgett Luther said.  “By recycling a remarkable number of containers in 2007, it’s clear that Californians are doing more than ever to conserve natural resources, provide valuable raw materials for new products, and reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.”

State Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), author of legislation that increased California Refund Value to a nickel for containers less than 24 ounces and a dime for containers 24 ounces and larger, called the added incentive a catalyst in giving California its highest beverage container recycling volume ever.

"It's great to see so many Californians responding positively to the new bottle bill.  Recycling is a win-win for consumers and the environment,” Hancock said.  “Recycling your bottles and cans saves money, reduces litter, and cuts pollution, including greenhouse gases.  I'm proud to be part of such a successful policy."

Recycling rates were up for all material types – aluminum rose to 79 percent in 2007 from 72 the previous year; glass to 67 percent from 59; and plastic to 54 percent from 47.  Sales of CRV beverages remained flat at 21.9 billion units in 2007, meaning the significant increase in recycling volume was achieved despite no increase in the number of containers available to recycle. 

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, petroleum products, are turned into fiber for clothing and carpet, or pellets that can be manufactured into items such as packaging or landscape materials, often at significant energy savings.

The energy saved by recycling can be translated into equivalent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions thought to contribute to climate change. The 14.7 billion containers recycled in 2007 is equivalent to removing 563,000 cars from the road for one year. To determine the amount of emission reductions achieved through recycling beverage containers, the DOC uses the Waste Reduction Model developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

“We face significant environmental challenges today in California and the world,” Director Luther said. “Recycling is one way we can create a more sustainable future and is easy for each of us to do every day. Whether people take their empties to a recycling center for a refund, put them in a curbside recycling bin, or remember to recycle when they’re at work or out and about, the environment wins.” 

To find nearby recycling centers, consumers can visit and enter their zip code, or call the Department of Conservation toll-free hotline, 1-800-RECYCLE.   

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.

All aspects of the state’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.

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.
For more information about DOC programs, visit