California's Unclaimed Bottle Refunds Create Green Jobs

SACRAMENTO, California, December 30, 2008 (ENS) - Unclaimed refund pennies on aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers purchased in California that end up in the trash instead of the recycling bin amount to millions of dollars. These funds are now being used to underwrite recycling projects across the state.

The California Department of Conservation has allocated $20 million among 20 recycling projects statewide the agency announced earlier this month.

"These projects help California's environment and economy, and keep our state at the leading edge of efforts to build sustainable communities," said Department of Conservation Director Bridgett Luther.

California has the nation's largest bottle and can recycling program and it is still growing. In the first six months of 2008, Californians recycled a record 7.6 billion California Refund Value beverage containers.

As a result, the recycling rate rose to 76 percent, compared to 71 percent for the same January through June period in 2007.

"Through this grants program, we promote economic development and an array of advancements in recycling and resource conservation," said Luther.

While the recovery infrastructure in California is extensive, the Department of Conservation grants open up opportunities for increased and more efficient recovery, cleaner supplies of recovered material, and an increase in the number of California manufacturers that use recycled materials in their products.

Selection of this year's grant recipients was based on the project's potential to create new temporary or permanent jobs, innovation and sustainability in material collection and/or processing improvements, demonstration of new technologies, creation of new products using recycled beverage containers or overcoming barriers to the purchase of recycled-content products.

For instance, Peninsula Plastics Recycling, Inc. was awarded $4.9 million toward a $27 million project to establish a plastics manufacturing facility in Stanislaus County to make food and beverage packaging from recycled plastic. The project is expected to recover more than 880 million plastic containers annually and create 50 jobs.

Repsco, Inc. will receive close to $1 million toward a $7.8 million project to relocate its Denver-based plastics recycling center to Fresno, California. The company plans to increase the recycling rate of No. 2 plastic, such as that used in milk containers, by using up to10 million pounds of the material each year to create "slip sheets," a replacement for traditional wooden pallets in transportation and warehouse applications.

Repsco will use the grant funds to purchase equipment to process almost 60 million containers into slip sheets annually and create 25 jobs.

Riverside County's CR&R Incorporated will receive $730,000 to begin development of a $26 million, three-year project to create one of the most environmentally advanced materials recovery facilities in the United States.

The CR&R grant funds will help purchase an optical scanner, overhead magnet and other equipment to capture a higher volume of California Refund Value material. The 52-acre facility will be one of the first in the United States to develop bio-methane for energy use from sorted municipal waste. It is estimated the project will process 80 million beverage containers annually and create 20 jobs.

Although not a requirement, several grantees submitted matching contributions to further demonstrate their commitment to the success of their projects. This year's matching funds totaled more than $72 million.

The legislation that created the Recycling Market Development and Expansion Grants program in 2004 allocated $10 million in funding annually. In 2007, legislation increased funding to $20 million annually through January 1, 2012.

All aspects of the state's beverage container recycling program are paid for with unclaimed refunds of California Refund Value beverage containers, at no cost to the state's general fund.

{Photo: Unclaimed refund pennies already paid for this discarded bottle help fund recycling projects. (Photo by Dana Mite)

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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