California rural counties will have new tools to make California Redemption Value (CRV) recycling easier now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed North Coast Assemblymember Jim Wood’s CRV bill. AB1311 makes changes to the state’s recycling law to better meet the CRV recycling demands of California’s rural counties by allowing CRV redemption centers to operate by appointments, when necessary, and introduce bag-drop off CRV recycling as well as allowing those centers to operate for less than 30 hours per week, options previously not allowed under California’s Bottle Bill.

The bill comes as Humboldt County has spent over a year without a certified CRV redemption center after the Humboldt Waste Management Authority shuttered its CRV services following an overwhelming demand that caused traffic hazards on Broadway in September of 2020. HWMA went to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (Cal Recycle) and asked to be allowed to set up appointments to meet the demand but Cal Recycle denied the request because the department only enforces state law and can’t make any exceptions. The state law is extremely strict and, at the time, only allowed for walk-in CRV drop-offs.

When the county lost its last CRV redemption center, the responsibility fell to grocers to collect, store, transport and redeem the 5 to 10 cent deposits paid by customers at the time of purchase, regardless of the original buying location. “The bottle bill is really prescriptive and (doesn’t allow for) a whole lot of flexibility, and Humboldt County is like the cradle of the recycling movement in California,” Wood told the Journal. “The Arcata Recycling Center started there, my predecessor was a part of the effort, they go way way back, and then, suddenly, we found ourselves in this situation where we don’t have a single recycling center that’s available to take redemptions back. It’s been a gradual erosion of the financial viability of recycling in California.

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Author: Iridian Casarez, North Coast Journal
Image: Randy Scott, North Coast Journal