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Recycling bill may mean higher deposits

September 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The cost of your soft drinks and your kids' juice boxes is on the verge of going up. A bill to start charging a deposit on practically every drink container is sitting on the governor's desk right now. Despite a 75 percent recycling rate on beverage containers, lawmakers sent Governor Schwarzenegger a bill that would boost the deposit on bottles and cans and make it applicable to more products.

The CRV on drinks 20-ounces or above would double from 5-cents to 10-cents. The threshold is currently 24-ounces and more products like juices in a jug or carton or in little pouches would be now be subjected to the environmental fee.

"By putting this CRV, we're giving consumers an opportunity, an incentive to go out and recycle that container making sure that if it gets inadvertently littered somebody might be motivated to pick it up off the side of the road" said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit recycling group.

Some people are upset with the proposed expansion because they end up paying extra for something to drink.

They think it's a hassle to take their bottles and cans to a recycling center that's sometimes inconveniently far away.

"People who go out to the recyclers are spending gas to recycle," said CRV opponent LaToya Griffin. "So you really aren't gaining because gas is so expensive."

Taxpayer groups aren't exactly thrilled either. Lawmakers have been raiding the CRV fund to help balance the state budget, nearly half a billion since 2002.

So in essence, they say, this is a "hidden tax" since some of it isn't going towards environmental purposes.

"It really looks like a tax. It walks like a tax. It quacks like a tax. We think it's a tax," said Jon Coupal from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Preston Bleak, who is homeless, makes $20 a day collecting recyclable containers. He thinks he can live better if the CRV is higher and applied to more products.

"That's how I support myself," said Bleak. "I get my food, dog food and cleaning material."

If Governor Schwarzenegger doesn't sign the bill, the CRV fund would go broke. State subsidized recycling depots could close and local conservation corps would lose much of their funding.

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