California's recycling program is hurting. Almost 200 recycling centers shutdown last year, with 278 jobs lost. In addition, 800 redemption centers closed, forcing residents to travel farther to return their empty cans and bottles to get their deposits back.
Why are so many closing down? Recycling centers sell the recycled goods, but lately, the amount of money they're getting for recycled plastic, glass and aluminum has severely declined. There is a plan in place to cover fluctuating market values, but recycling centers say it's not enough.
State subsidies are too little too late
California has a subsidy program meant to offset the variance but recycling centers say the subsidies don’t cover the deficit. It's estimated that recyclers have been underpaid by more than $50 million since 2012.
Making matters worse, the subsidies come with an average three-month lag time.
Lawmakers can't agree on a solution
Recycling center managers have taken their concerns to state lawmakers, asking them to stop the collapse of the recycling system by at least providing the correct subsidy in a timely manner.
There is a $250 million fund ran by CalRecycle, the state-operated agency that's responsible for waste management, which could provide the needed assistance but the organization needs authorization from lawmakers to release the money.
Some lawmakers argue that throwing money at the failing system isn't a long-term fix, and prefer instead to overhaul the whole system from the structure of the payments to the players involved.
The trouble is that California’s 30-year-old recycling plan includes complex subsidies and intricate clauses that make the problem more difficult to solve.
For instance, as redemption centers close, grocery stores are required by law to take bottles and cans. But some grocers aren't equipped to do so. They can opt-out, but they have to pay the state government $100 a day.
Situations like this make it difficult for lawmakers to create a solution, let alone agree to one.
Recycling levels drop
As lawmakers ponder a fix for the failing recycling centers, California residents are forced to deal with the backlash.
An estimated three million residents are inconvenienced by fewer redemption centers. Some residents are making the trek to a neighboring town to get their bottle deposits back while others have stopped recycling empty bottles and cans altogether. Beverage container recycling rates fell below 80% for the first time in a decade.
The need for a better solution
As states like California struggle with an old, burdened recycling program, it's clear that another solution is needed. What if there was a way to drastically cut every state's reliance on recycling centers? There is.
Rather than recycle, let's refill. Retailers can install a simple refill station that allows consumers to refill their favorite products like laundry detergent, body wash, moisturizer, and shampoo – just to name a few.
The technology exists to allow consumers to refill products now, but retailers aren't certain customers will use it.
It's time to stop relying on broken recycling systems and turn to refill. It's time to tell retailers that you, the consumer, are ready to refill products to help the environment in a way recycling no longer can.
The time to ACT is NOW!
Sign the Petition
The technology exists to save tons of plastic waste each year by refilling household goods like laundry soap and shampoo. Sign our petition to let big retailers know that you want access to refill technology in your local stores.