Two advocacy groups and a consulting firm they hired have prepared a 20-page report saying a “precipitous decline” in funding for California’s bottle bill has led to redemption rates falling from a peak of 85 percent to 66 percent in recent years. The bottle bill legislation has an 80 percent target rate.
The Changing Markets Foundation and National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC) commissioned the New York office of United Kingdom-based Eunomia Research & Consulting to assess the current status of the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (AB 2020), the state’s deposit and return bottle bill.
The resulting report, “Genie in a Bottle: Unlocking the full potential of California’s bottle bill,” examines the decline in the program’s redemption rate “and also looks at the opportunities to update California’s bottle bill to meet the desires of the overwhelming majority of Californians,” the two groups say. Polling conducted as part of the report found that 74 percent of the state’s residents “support doing more to reduce plastic pollution.”
According to Eunomia’s findings, “Redemption rates have declined primarily due to a 53 percent reduction in [the number of] recycling centers since 2013. From 2013 to 2019, more than 1,200 recycling centers closed, resulting from underfunding the centers.”
Since 53 percent of recycling centers have closed, the statewide recycling rate has dropped by 10 percentage points, according to Eunomia. “Ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely accelerate this trend. If half of the remaining recycling centers close, the number of tons of beverage