New Calif. law squeezes recyclable collectors

by The Associated Press
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(AP File Photo)

(AP File Photo)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A new California law that tightens the state’s recycling redemption rules is squeezing people who cash in bottles and plastic to make ends meet.

The Los Angeles Times reports that, as of Nov. 1, recycling centers started paying much less for containers including wine bottles and milk jugs that do not have a specific redemption value.

An empty beer or soda bottle can still be turned in for a nickel or a dime. But under the new law, recycling centers receive the much-lower, scrap value for containers with no specific redemption value.

That means the centers pay people who scour cities to collect recyclables much less as well.

A load of containers that used to fetch a few hundred dollars might now only be worth one-quarter of its prior value.

That is the situation facing Francisco Morataya, an office janitor who each week recycles a vanload of bottles and cans in Los Angeles.

Morataya told the newspaper that he used the $200 he received to pay his daughter’s cellphone bill. Now he takes home about $50 for the same load.

“It’s really bad,” he said, flinging plastic bottles into a garbage bin. “I can’t help my daughter.”

While grocery and liquor store customers were not charged deposits for containers including wine and liquor bottles, and some milk and juice jugs, recyclers could mingle them with redeemable containers when they visited the state’s 2,200 recycling centers.

When recycling rates in California rose to 80 percent or more during the recession, the solvency of California’s $1.1-billion beverage container recycling fund came under threat, according to CalRecycle spokesman Mark Oldfield. The new law is part of an effort to pay out less, helping close what Oldfield said is a “structural” deficit of $100 million in the state’s $1.1-billion recycling fund.

Wine and liquor bottles will continue to be recycled through curbside pickups.

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