Consumer and Recycling Advocates Condemn Loss of Last Recycling Center West of 405 Freeway

At the site of the soon-to-be shuttered bottle Santa Monica Community Recycling Center, consumer advocates called on California lawmakers and regulators to rescue the failing redemption industry. The center, closing Saturday, is the last redemption center west of the 405, serving 200,000 people on LA's Westside.
Christine Becker,
Christine Becker,

According to Consumer Watchdog 40% of the recycling centers in the state have closed in recent years due to economic distress and the failure of state regulators and lawmakers to provide adequate funding for redemption centers where consumers return their bottles and cans.

The recycling advocates called on the state to provide relief to the recycling centers to help consumers get their 5 cent and 10 cent bottle deposits returned.

“The City of Santa Monica has spent millions of dollars over the years to keep Santa Monica Bay clean and free of plastics,” said Susan Collins, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute. “Beverage containers and their caps constitute 4 of the top 10 items found in the litter stream during beach cleanups. Beverage container deposit laws have been found to reduce beverage container litter by 40%. The closure of this facility will likely lead to an increase in beverage container litter on Santa Monica’s streets and beaches, and ultimately, into the Santa Monica Bay. The closure of this facility will also deprive Santa Monica residents of a convenient way to get their $3 million in deposits back each year.”

“It’s outrageous that the agency charged with overseeing recycling has a $360 million reserve fund it has not tapped to help consumers get their deposits back,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. “Consumers pay about $1.5 billion each year for bottle and can deposits, but are only getting about half of their nickels and dimes returned. Bottle deposits are becoming a tax, rather than a deposit, when there are too few recycling centers and grocery stores are not living up to their responsibility to take back bottles and cans when there is no center in the area.”

A Consumer Watchdog report showed that consumers only get about half their bottle and can deposits back directly. A recent survey found by the group that grocery stores, the redemption centers of last resort, refuse to take back empties two-thirds of the time despite having a legal obligation to do so. Consumer Watchdog wrote the Newsom Administration for budget relief.


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