Recycling is Way Up (And More Lucrative) in California
As it turns out, recycling has its price. In California, that price happens to be a nickel - for small beverage containers - or a dime - for larger ones. No doubt some segment of the surge witnessed in Californians' recycling was attributable to something other than just financial incentives; the consensus among economists and environmentalists, however, seems to be that the respective one- and two-cent hikes in the state's Refund Value were largely to credit for the largest increase in the state's recycling rate in the last 15 years.
Out of the more than 6.9 billion containers recycled in the first half of 2007 - a year on increase of almost 800 million - state officials estimate that close to 7 in 10 were redeemed. Though it may not seem like much, experts explain that the one-cent hike was conflated to represent more than just a single penny increase; by suggesting that "recycling is worth a nickel, that recycling is worth a dime, conveys a sense of value . . . recycling is not just about a couple pennies," the state, through its media blitz, made people feel like "they're doing something important." The renewed recycling fervor has assuaged some officials' fears that Californians were buying more and recycling less; they had been particularly concerned by what they saw as a huge increase in the number of plastic bottles people were purchasing - and the large number they were simply throwing away.
The unclaimed funds generated by the redemption program are used to pay for recycling education programs and grants/subsidies to conservation groups and local governments. The state hopes to eventually see Californians recycle 8 or more out of every 10 beverage containers they buy.
One woman queried about the benefits of recycling has the right idea (and one that more state officials should use to convince skeptics): "You've already spent the money. Why not?"
Via ::Los Angeles Times: More Californians cashing in on recyclables (newspaper)