Monday, 01 March 2021

Cities to pay residents for bottle and can pick-ups and drop-offs; new pilot projects innovate CRV redemption to test recycling solutions

The city of Irvine and a coalition of six cities in Sonoma County will take on local redemption challenges by launching state-approved pilot projects to make it easier for consumers to cash in their empty bottles and cans.

Irvine’s newly approved program lets consumers schedule at-home pick-ups to redeem beverage containers with electronic or mail payment.

The Sonoma County program establishes 10 new bag-drop locations in suburban and rural parts of the county where consumers can leave tagged bags of material for electronic payment.

“California cities and counties know best how to overcome local obstacles to convenient CRV redemption to meet the needs of their communities,” California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery Acting Director Ken DaRosa said. “Successful pilot projects could serve as new models for more convenient bottle and can redemption statewide.”

Irvine’s first-in-the-state California Redemption Value, or CRV, pickup program was designed to help overcome local code restrictions that limit new take-back sites in the city. Customers can place empty containers into a marked bag, schedule a residential pickup (by phone or online), and receive payment via mailed check, PayPal, Venmo, Zelle Pay, debit, or charitable donation after the material is processed.

Sonoma County’s CRV bag drop program was designed by a coalition of six cities with diverse regional needs to more than triple the number of consumer redemption sites in the county from 4 to 14. New bag drop locations in the suburban cities of Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and more rural communities of Sonoma, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale, let consumers drop off tagged bags of material and receive CRV payments electronically after the material is processed.

The Beverage Container Recycling Pilot Program, created by Senate Bill 458 (Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017), authorizes CalRecycle to approve up to five pilot projects proposed by local jurisdictions to explore innovative, new models for CRV redemption in underserved areas. Assembly Bill 54 (Ting, Chapter 793, Statutes of 2019) made changes to the pilot program to allow for greater flexibility and to provide up to $5 million in pilot project grant funding for approved projects.

Both new programs use the legal flexibility granted under the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Pilot Program to customize CRV takeback options to the needs of their region.

State law authorizes CalRecycle to approve and provide up to $1 million each for up to five pilot projects as California explores new models to improve convenient access to CRV take-back sites. In addition to these two new projects, CalRecycle previously approved the following three projects:

· San Mateo County: Three additional fixed CRV take-back locations with limited operating hours within San Mateo County, including one in a more rural area.

· San Francisco: Consumer can bag and tag CRV material and drop off at collection bins throughout the city with electronic payment issued after materials are processed.

· Culver City – A mobile redemption center alternates between two locations six days a week.

Pilot project start dates vary based on the application approval of pilot project recyclers. Once pilot programs commence, all convenience zones within the program’s area will be considered served, relieving CRV retailers of their obligation to either redeem containers in-store or pay a $100-per-day fee.

At a glance: California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program

Californians have recycled more than 400 billion bottles and cans since the inception of the Beverage Container Recycling Program in 1986.

· California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act established the California Redemption Value (CRV) deposit on beverage containers to incentivize recycling and reduce litter.

· The state’s beverage container recycling rate increased from 52 percent in 1988 to the 2019 beverage container recycling rate of 75 percent.

· Californians recycled 18 billion CRV beverage containers in 2019.

· In March 2020, CalRecycle submitted a report to the Legislature identifying options to address the lack of recycling centers in some areas by giving recycling businesses the flexibility to adapt to regional challenges.

· California established the highest minimum recycled content goals in the world for plastic beverage containers, which will require manufacturers to use 50 percent recycled plastic in new CRV plastic beverage containers.

CalRecycle maintains an online database directing consumers to their nearest certified recycling centers or retailers required to redeem CRV deposits in-store. Californians are encouraged to report issues with CRV redemption to CalRecycle’s toll-free number (1-800-RECYCLE) or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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