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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tossing It Out Tuesday: California Redemption Value


Recycling For Cash


            Some of us may recall the days before beverages in cans when there was a deposit required for soft drink bottles.  One could save the bottles to return to the store for a cash refund.  For a kid it was a great way to pick up some extra money.  My parents would let me cash in our bottles on grocery visits and I'd end up with as much as a dollar in my pocket--not too shabby for a kid in those days.

            More industrious kids, and even some adults for that matter, might go around the neighborhood to collect bottles from neighbors or pick up the discards along the roadway.  It was not unlike some of the recyclers we see today, except then in was not thought of as recycling, but just returning the empties.  Recycling is something that was not a particularly big issue prior to the 1970s, but it was a common practice for many things.   The soft drink manufacturors provided the incentive for the bottles to be returned so that they could reuse them, and in turn save money.

           When no deposit no return containers came on the market, it was convenient because now you could just throw them away.  However, issues of more landfill waste and roadside litter called for a solution to the problems that accompanied the use of these containers.  Recycling started to become a more highly promoted issue in the 70s, but more incentive was needed to keep consumers from merely throwing away what could be recycled.

           In 1987, California put the California Redemption Value (CRV) into effect.  This CRV is a fee that is charged for certain recyclables.  The CRV acronym also stands for California Refund Value which is the amount that is paid by the recycling companies to consumers who return their containers.  It is rare to see recyclable containers as litter for any length of time.  Many people scavenge trash cans in public places, pick up roadside discards, and even illegally raid household recycle bins that are set out on trash day.

            I have always kept my recyclables and cashed them in myself.  Storage is no big hassle.  I keep the cans, glass, and plastic bottles separated in trash bags in my garage.  It usually takes a few months for any appreciable amount to accumulate and I normally only go to the recycle center three or four times per year.  My most recent trip was shortly after my daughters came to visit.  With all of the company and a party, we quickly added to the accumulation of recyclables and after they left it was time to cash in the containers.

                             My Load of CRV Recyclables



           With the rear portion of my van loaded up with bags of aluminum cans and plastic and glass bottles, I headed to my closest recycle center at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning.

                                    The Recycle Center


         The recycling location that I go to is beside what used to be a supermarket that has been closed for over a year now.  The building remains vacant, but the recycling station is still there.  Pictured above are some clients settling up for the recyclables they've brought in.  In the recent decline of the economy the supermarket wasn't able to survive, but the recycling business is booming.

                                 The Monetary Score


          I brought in one bag of aluminum cans, five bags of plastic bottles,  and 38 glass bottles.   My take for the haul was $23.55.  Not that bad for just storing them in my garage and taking them to the recycle center when I had a few bags.   But the best thing is that the containers don't end up in the landfill. 

          Does your state have a program to encourage recycling?   Do you recycle your containers to make money for yourself?   Do you have charities (churches, schools, or other organizations) that you donate your recyclables to in order for them to raise money?  If you aren't recycling, what do you do with your containers?

26 comments:

  1. We recycle here in NC (without compensation) but my home state of OR still has a deposit on bottles and cans.

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  2. I can remember taking bottles back for cash.Now we put them in a recycling bin, collected by the council each week,,,,,and we have to pay for that privilege with our council tax fees.

    We can also take clothes and shoes to a recyling centre and deposit them in a large container for certain charities.

    Good post Lee, enjoyed the read.
    Yvonne.

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  3. Interesting set up your state has. I don't know that CT has such a thing. We can bring bottles to the grocery store and put them in a machine one at a time (since they charge you for a deposit when you buy recyclable stuffs like soday, etc, you'd be a fool to not get your money back); my town recycling center charges me to bring electronics to them so I generally avoid that like the plague. On the up side of things there is a little company a few towns away that takes old computers FOR FREE so I don't have to pay my town to take them. Wahoo!

    I wish I could get money from these things instead of just replacing that which the state already took. *frump*

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  4. There is an Award which you may or may not want to display waiting for you on my blog. It was given in all sincerity.

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  5. Wow - I'm a little surprised at the different levels of recycling. We recycle LOT in my city. We have curbside pickup for paper and plastics. We have 3 big bins that go out weekly. Even apartment buildings have the service. I don't know of anyone who doesn't recycle everything!

    We have several businesses that recycle other items: electronics, clothing, furniture... Most offer free pickup. Some of these are charitable organizations and have re-stores for re-selling the products.

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  6. We have lived in WA now for 21 years. 10 years in the Seattle area where recycle was big and we did it only because the containers were provided and it was required. The garbage company picked up the separated items and disposed of them.

    We were then moved to Vancouver (SW WA)by an employer and the recycle continued. Again, more so because the refuse company required it and provided the containers. Bit of a hassle on garbage day to set out 4 or more containers, but what the hey it was only once a week. Of course there was no refund on anything.

    Then we have lived in Longview for 5 1/2 years where there is not a big push for recycle. We now just throw everything away in one can which gets picked up each week. I think you can take items to the dump and recycle for cost of dumping. I think the main refuse plant in Longview/Kelso may have a recycle portion, whether one gets paid or not I am not aware. Oregon has the bottle and can refund deal, we live a mile from the bridge over the Columbia and we go that route often to visit my daughter in Portland, so we tried to take cans and botles in after as you say storing for a bit, and the hassle and renumertion wasn't worth it. If Longview provided containers and picked them up each week I would proably recycle but since they don't I don't.

    Yes, I am thinking twice before I hit the post button - I will not be very popular today.

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  7. I mean to recycle but I'm lazy. Plus, I don't drink many soft drinks.

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  8. I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Newman try to figure out how to make a profit by returning NYC recylcables to Michigan.

    Havin lived in PA and NJ, two states without deposits, I can say that you see a lot less bottles and cans littering the roadside where there are deposits (I also lived in CT)

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  9. Great post! Keep up the good work!

    Around here we have no compensation of any value here. People can turn their recyclables in for a small pittance (set by our few recycling companies). It seems that they are more into accepting large metal items (sadly there's a great increase in people stealing copper/brass, etc. out of homes and selling it) for whatever profit they can get.

    Still, we have recycled for over fifteen years. There are bins at a local grocery store where we take our bags of recyclables (for no compensation) each week.

    To be honest, we don't have trash pick up here (by choice). We recycle plastics, paper products & metals (our recycling center won't accept glass). We give our empty glass jars/bottles to the Amish who use them for canning/storing and candle making. We compost our food scraps. And where we live, we're permitted to burn our small amount of paper trash (like envelopes, unwanted mail, tree branches, leaves, card-boards, etc.). So we have a burn-barrel for that.

    Once every year or so we do call a 'junk hauler' if we have any old appliances/metals to get rid of and he takes them for free.

    Admittedly, visitors to our home often aren't as zealous as we are about reducing landfills. And they feel it's a hassle to have to put their food scraps into our compost container and toss their cans into one bag and bottles into another. So typically I just tell them that I'll clean up the table. (lol) To me, it's so worth it. Just knowing that we aren't contributing very much at all to landfills is a real blessing.

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  10. We are encouraged to recycle through city pick-ups in their containers. I'm not sure if we have a center to get paid for our efforts or not.

    Loved the post and you have such a graceful way of reminding us we are getting old. :D
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  11. We don't get paid, but we are expected to separate our recyclables.

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  12. L.Diane - I'll bet more people would recycle in NC if they had the incentive.

    Yvonne --"Council"--interesting terminology. Maybe "Collective" would be more appropriate. At least they are recycling.

    Kimberly -- We have some recycle station that have the machines that do the one at a time deal. I've never tried it--it seems so time consuming. I like to take them in by bulk and just go by weight. We don't have to pay (at least not directly out of pocket) for any recycling.

    Rayna -- Thank you. I will check it out. I've been meaning to stop by your blog and say hello since it's been a while.

    Jemi -- I've seen communities with the multiple bin system and it looks like a lot more trouble. We have a bin for our landfill trash and one for mixed recyclables which are sorted later at a recycling center. I'm going to be doing a post about this in the future.

    Gregg-- I'm sure you're not alone in your opinion. If was a really big hassle for me I would bother with recyling either. The recycle center that I go to is just a few blocks away and the money makes it worth doing.

    Jennee -- We don't drink as many soft drinks as we used to either, but my wife and her family go thru a lot of plastic bottles of water. Me--I'm a tap water guy myself--never could understand bottled water. I'm eventually going to do a post on this.

    LC -- When I've taken driving trips out of state I've always saved any cans I acquired duing the trip and cashed them in when I get back to CA-- they don't really look at them at the recycle center.

    Deb -- Sounds like you take your recycling pretty serious. I don't know if I could be that dedicated. In California we had a lot of metal thefts especially for brass and copper. A few of the thieves have been electrocuted in the process.

    Jules -- Who's getting old? Not you and me!

    Alex -- At least they are recycling and I guess it helps to defray some city costs.

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  13. ...the five cent deposit on bottles was/is a great incentive on reducing the litter along the highways. too bad they wouldn't do the same for plastic grocery bags. the highways around Vegas look more like you're driving thru a landfill regardless of which direction you come/go from. our city just started recycling but i'm sure they get upset when they see/open/smell my 5 plastic gallon home depot buckets filled with dog s*** every three weeks. but hey! it's a plastic bucket and plastic MUST go in the blue recycle bin!

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  14. I remember going to the recycling center with you when we were little and then you'd go buy groceries with the money we made, but I feel like we made more than $23.

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  15. We had that cash refund for empty bottles just a few years ago here in my country. I still keep the jars in which I buy honey (I eat lots of honey) and take them back to the beekeeper who sells honey to me. We now also have bags from recyclable materials in all the supermarkets. And I also collect rain for watering my garden and plants.

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  16. We recycle ours and take them to the recycling center. We take the kids with us to instill good habits. Sometimes I toss them in the recycle trash bin, but generally we take them to the center when we have two or three trash bags full.

    Stephen Tremp

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  17. When we lived in NJ, we were required to recycle, and our township supplied the recycling containers and pickup (and our taxes reflected this). We of course, got into the habit of recycling paper, plastic, glass, etc.

    Here in KY, it is not mandatory; it is hard to just toss recyclables into the trash. I felt like I was doing something wrong at first. They moderately encourage it here but you have to take the items to the town's recycling center. There is no compensation here, which is fine - it was just more conducive in NJ. They don't accept as much in KY as they did in NJ and it can be kind of confusing. I need to get into the habit of setting items aside and making the trip to the center. Add that to my to-do list:)

    Good discussion going here!
    Take care,
    Karen

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  18. Bud -- Yeah, it's too bad that some people are so inconsiderate that they just toss their plastic bags anywhere. And, eeew, the dog crap pails would be kind of gross.

    Emilee --- I don't think it was ever much more than $20, but yes I did usually by some groceries, especially eggs since they were always cheaper at the market that is now closed.

    Dezmond -- Sounds like you are doing your part. Here in L.A. if we could collect any rain we'd probably want to save it and put it on exhibit at a museum since it is so rare.

    Stephen -- If we throw them in the recycle bin they would probably be scavenged by various raiders who go through the neighborhood and we've been trying to discourage them from coming into the community since it is considered theft and trespassing in a gated community.

    Karen -- with no monetary compensation, the convenience of recyclable collection would be nice. If it's too big of a hassle, people are less likely to do it.

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  19. We recycle here in NC, that's right no compensation as Diane mentioned. I am from Maine where there is still a deposit and grew up saving the collectibles. Sometimes they would be donated to a group in need. I think the deposit method works and it keeps our country cleaner~
    Great post!

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  20. My local council provides separate bins for different materials. The red bins is regular unrecyclable materials. The green bins are for garden rubbish. The yellow bins are for recycle. We don't get paid for doing this, but we do get fines if we put recyclable stuff in the wrong bins.

    I also donate all my plastic bags to the church because they need them for wrapping up things for charity.

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  21. Holy cow....you get money for your recycling!!!!! We get our five cent deposits back, but that's it...the rest we do just because we love saving it in our garage until there is no room for the cars...LOL. We recycle paper, carboard, plastic, tin, aluminum, glass, and batteries. It gets a bit overwhelming. I'm not sure where you are suppposed to take the batteries, so I have two years worth of them in a tub....

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  22. Ellie -- I'm all for the deposit and return for a refund method. If a consumer doesn't return it there's usually someone in need who is willing to make the effort.

    Lynda -- I don't know if we get fined for putting the wrong things in the wrong bins. It's so easy for me to keep it all separate I would probably not do this.

    Sharon -- Here in Los Angeles we are supposed to take the batteries to a hazardous waste collection center. This is a bigger hassle since it takes a long time for me to save up any appreciable amount of hazardous waste and going to the collections is a bigger hassle and we don't get paid.

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  23. Hi Lee .. we recycle (or can do!) here in the UK .. different town councils and county councils have differing policies .. but we don't get paid!

    Here somewhere in the UK is a family that ends up with a tiny amount of rubbish every year .. they literally don't buy anything that needs recycling! Take their own plates/containers down to get their meat, veg etc .. so nothing to recycle! A lesson there? & something for us to think about?

    Thanks .. interesting what everyone's area does .. or they do ..... Hilary

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  24. Hilary -- You make a good point that does concern me: the matter of packaging. Packaging is a big part of the waste problem. Sometimes I'll buy something and the packaging has greater mass than the product. The packaging also adds a great deal of cost to a product. I can understand a need for packaging, especially from the standpoint of product transport, storage, and display. I guess the manufacture of packaging does create more jobs which is an upside.

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  25. Testing, 1, b, 3, d.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  26. StMc --Has the conspiracy taken over McCarthy's mind? Has his brain been deleted? Has my brain been deleted?

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