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NR 2005-09
May 19, 2005

Contact: Ed Wilson
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
(916) 323-1886

CALIFORNIANS SET STATE’S ALL-TIME RECORD
FOR BOTTLE AND CAN RECYCLING IN 2004

SACRAMENTO – The state’s Department of Conservation released statistics today that show Californians recycled at an all-time high in 2004, giving a new lease on life to a total of 12 billion aluminum, glass and plastic California Refund Value beverage containers.

That number easily outpaced the previous high of 10.6 billion in 2002, and represented a 1.5 billion-container increase over the 2003 figure of 10.5 billion.

“This is an exciting achievement for California in terms of energy savings, natural resource conservation, waste reduction and litter prevention,” said state Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman.

The overall recycling rate (the percentage of CRV containers recycled in comparison to total sales) rose to 59 percent, compared to 55 percent in 2003. For the first time, total sales of CRV containers surpassed 20 billion. Clear plastic containers such as single-serve water bottles had a particularly impressive increase compared to 2003 with a 30 percent gain in total volume recycled, to 2.5 billion bottles. Glass volume was up 14 percent to almost 2 billion, while aluminum rose 9 percent to 7.4 billion cans. Other types of plastic, along with bi-metal cans, made up the remainder.

The jump in recycling equates roughly to saving 31 million gallons of gasoline, and the 1.5 billion containers would fill to the rim three 50,000-seat baseball stadiums.

Looking ahead, Department of Conservation Interim Director Debbie Sareeram encouraged consumers to make an even greater commitment to beverage container recycling.

“As we move forward into the summer months, when consumption is at its peak, we should all remember to put our bottles and cans into the recycling bin and not the trash can,” Sareeram said.

The increase in the recycling rate may be tied to a number of things, including a higher California Refund Value that took effect in January 2004.

“The higher refund value had the desired effect of encouraging more people to recycle more containers,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, an environmental organization that backed legislation raising the CRV. “The state should be commended for its proactive approach to raising the recycling rate.”

Other factors that contribute to increased recycling are ongoing efforts by the Department of Conservation toward greater public awareness of the need to recycle and better customer service at thousands of privately owned recycling centers in the state. Also, DOC funding to cities and counties and grants to a variety of entities have resulted in more recycling opportunities, and outreach efforts have increased recycling at private businesses like office buildings and restaurants.

Ongoing efforts by the Department of Conservation have resulted in greater public awareness of the need to recycle and better customer service at thousands of privately owned recycling centers in the state. Also, DOC funding to cities and counties and grants to a variety of entities have resulted in more recycling opportunities, and outreach efforts have increased recycling at private businesses like office buildings and restaurants.

California Refund Value is 4 cents on containers less than 24 ounces, 8 cents on containers 24 ounces and larger. Consumers and businesses can find nearby recycling centers by calling 1-800-RECYCLE or visiting www.bottlesandcans.com and using the zip code-based recycling center locater via the “Where” link. A “Recycling Starter Kit” for businesses is also now available at www.bottlesandcans.com via the “Start a Recycling Program” link.

Most beverages packaged in aluminum, glass and plastic, such as soft drinks, water, beer, sports drinks, juices and coffee and tea drinks, are included in the CRV program. Among the notable products not included in the program are milk, wine and distilled spirits. Visit http://www.conservation.ca.gov/DOR/CRVinOutList.pdf for a comprehensive list of products subject to CRV.

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

In addition to promoting beverage container recycling, the Department of Conservation maps and studies earthquakes and other geologic phenomena; classifies areas containing mineral deposits; ensures reclamation of land used for mining; regulates oil, gas and geothermal wells; and administers agricultural and open-space land conservation programs.

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