If You’ve Found It Impossible to Recycle in California, You’re Not the Only One

Published on

By Lolita Lopez, KNBC TV-4 Los Angeles, CA

February 19, 2020

https://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/recycling-centers-closed-california-why/2312598/

Many Californians are having a tough time recycling bottles and cans and getting back deposits as hundreds of recycling centers shutter throughout the state — but something else is going on behind the scenes that is making it even worse. 

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: 

For every can and bottle you recycle, you get back a five or ten cent CRV.

But many consumers, like Mark Milan, say it’s easier said than done.  

“I showed up with an entirely full car of cans,” he said. “It said ‘gone out of business.'” 

His local recycling center shut down along with 340 others throughout the state.  

That now means many retailers who sell the single-use beverages are required to take back the empty cans and bottles.  

But, the state gives stores an out in this arrangement — instead of taking your recyclables, they can opt to pay a daily $100 fine. 

Many don’t. More than 400 retailers owe the state nearly $10 million in these fines. 

“As a good corporate citizen, they should be following  the law,” Milan said. 

According to Calrecycle, the agency that runs the state’s recycling program, Walgreens owes $172,000.

Walmart — $312,000.

CVS owes $445,000. 

In a statement to NBCLA, CVS said: “We are aware of Calrecycle’s claims and disagree with their allegations.” 

Walgreens said, “We’ve been working with the state to resolve this matter, and can confirm that payments have been processed for any outstanding balance due.” 

Walmart did not respond.  

But it’s not just retail giants. Mom-and-pop shops owe big money too.  

One small liquor store owes $94,000, while a gas station owes $85,000.

“I’m appalled,” Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog said. “It’s the state’s fault. The state’s the cop on the beat. Grocery stores and retail chains have definitely been bilking the system. But it’s the state’s obligation to smack their knuckles.”

So what’s Calrecycle doing to collect on its past due accounts? 

It recently fined CVS $3.6 million for refusing to pay the daily fine.  

As for other retailers, Calrecycle said it sends monthly collection notices, and it said “while legal action takes time and resources” it “will continue to be utilized for the largest violators.” 

Court says it’s clear the daily fines aren’t working. 

He says the state should simply require all retailers to take back recyclables. 

“The importance of the return to the retailer is that it’s easy — you get your money,” Court said. “Every retailer in the state should have to participate” 

Milan said he’s on board with that. 

“I want to stop giving you my money because you’re not giving it back according to the rules,” Milan said. 

Lawmakers have introduced legislation to fix the recycling problem, but it’s always fallen through.  

Consumer Watchdog says it’s looking to Gov. Gavin Newsom to step in and fix the problem.  

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdoghttps://consumerwatchdog.org
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Energy Videos

Video thumbnail
Consumer Alert: Big Oil’s BS Mailer
01:52
Video thumbnail
KABC-LA, CA: Lawmakers Should Prevent Refineries from Selling Expensive Summer Blend of Gas Overseas
02:58
Video thumbnail
KPIX-SF (CBS) - San Francisco, CA: California Gas Prices Are Soaring Again
00:32
Video thumbnail
KCAL-LA - Los Angeles, CA: Gas Prices Skyrocketing
02:52
Video thumbnail
KTLA-LA (CW) - Los Angeles, CA: So Cal Gas Prices Nearing $6 a Gallon
03:20
Video thumbnail
Spectrum News 1 (San Fernando Valley) - Los Angeles, CA: Controversy Over Gas Storage Facility
03:50
Video thumbnail
KFMB-SD (CBS) - San Diego, CA: Gas Tax Increase Takes Effect July 1st
03:23
Video thumbnail
CBS 8 - Los Angeles, CA: What You Need to Know About Gas Prices
02:02
Video thumbnail
KGO-SF (ABC) - San Francisco, CA: BottleBank Update, Is It Really Effective?
02:39
Video thumbnail
Senator Portantino, Shame on You
01:18
Video thumbnail
Senator Portantino: Protect Our Communities From Oil Drillers
00:51
Video thumbnail
KERO-BFL (ABC) - Bakersfield, CA; Oil Drilling Near Homes Can Cause Health and Safety Concerns
03:06
Video thumbnail
KNBC - LA, CA; Consumer Watchdog's Liza Tucker On New Concerns With Santa Susana Field Lab Clean Up
04:09
Video thumbnail
(ABC) - LA, CA; SoCal Edison's New Income Based Proposed Charges Might Not Be As Stable As They Seem
02:40
Video thumbnail
(CBS)-Fresno, CA; Victory For Californians As Bill Passes That Will Regulate Profits Of Oil Refiners
02:17
Video thumbnail
CNBC - Jamie Court Speaks About The Bill That Would Penalize Oil Refineries For Price Gouging
06:39
Video thumbnail
KXTV(ABC) - Sacramento, CA; Governor Newsom Announced A New Deal With Lawmakers To Take On Big Oil
02:56
Video thumbnail
KNBC-LA (NBC) - Los Angeles, CA; Holding Utility Companies Accountable For Power Outages
02:01
Video thumbnail
Consumer Watchdog at CA Senate Energy Cmte 2 22 23
50:54
Video thumbnail
KFMB CW - San Diego, CA; Oil Companies Need to be Held Accountable for High Gas Prices
02:42
Video thumbnail
KTTV (FOX) - Los Angeles, CA; Recap Of Jamie Court's Testimony At The Senate Hearing For Gas Prices
05:07
Video thumbnail
KGTV(ABC) - SD, CA; Jamie Court Will Testify at the Price Gouging Hearing for Rising Gas Prices
01:17
Video thumbnail
KTTV-LA (FOX) - Los Angeles, CA; SoCal Gas Bill Sticker Shock
04:24
Video thumbnail
Spectrum News 1 - Los Angeles, CA; Who Is SoCal Gas Buying Their Gas From?
09:18
Video thumbnail
Why SoCal Gas is at Fault For Doubling Your Natural Gas Bill
01:43
Video thumbnail
KNBC - Los Angeles, CA; Spike In Natural Gas Prices
02:32
Video thumbnail
KCBS - Los Angeles, CA; New Year, New Pain At The Pump
03:02
Video thumbnail
KCAL - Los Angeles, CA; Jamie Court Says We are Being Gouged By SoCal Gas
02:18
Video thumbnail
KTTV (FOX) - Los Angeles, CA; Jamie Court Weighs In On Astronomically High SoCal Gas Bills
04:29
Video thumbnail
KCAL- LA, CA; What's Behind The Gas Price Jump And Simple Changes That Could Save You Some Money
02:49
Video thumbnail
Spectrum News 1 - Los Angeles, CA; SoCal Gas Is Blaming Price Hikes On A Cold Snap
09:35
Video thumbnail
KCAL- Los Angeles, CA; SoCal Gas Price Hikes Has To Do With Mismanagement
01:10
Video thumbnail
Spectrum News 1 - Los Angeles, CA; Jamie Court Says There's More To The SoCal Price Hike
03:10
Video thumbnail
Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court Testifies About Need for Windfall Profits Cap in California
05:36
Video thumbnail
Californians Need a Rebate From Gasoline Price Gouging
02:34
Video thumbnail
Senate Bill 1322 Takes On The Golden State Gouge
01:06
Video thumbnail
CBS Evening News: Jamie Court on Gas Prices Hitting 5 Year High
01:40
Video thumbnail
KNBC: Jamie Court Explains the Spike in Gas Prices
02:23
Video thumbnail
KTTV-GDLA: Jamie Court Explains California's High Gas Prices
04:34
Video thumbnail
SPECTRUM NEWS1: Challenges Redeeming Recyclables in California
02:56
Video thumbnail
SPECTRUM NEWS1: California Stores Preventing Bottle Deposit Redemption
08:55
Video thumbnail
KCAL: Santa Monica's Last Recycling Center is Closing
00:38
Video thumbnail
KABC: New Gas Tax to be Enacted on July 1st
02:22
Video thumbnail
KTVU Fox: Consumer Watchdog Urges Governor Newsom to Fire Oil Regulators With Conflicts of Interests
00:46
Video thumbnail
SPECTRUM NEWS 1: DOGGR Regulator Fired Over Conflicts of Interest and Increased Oil Drilling Permits
03:06
Video thumbnail
KABC: FBI Raids LADWP Office and City Attorney's Office Over Billing Scandal Cover-Up
02:07
Video thumbnail
KABC: The Largest Chain of Recycling Centers in CA is Closing Down
02:14
Video thumbnail
ABC KOFY: CA's Recycling Crisis Worsens After Largest Chain of Recycling Centers Close
02:08
Video thumbnail
ABC KXTV: rePlanet Closes Entire Chain Of Recycling Centers
00:38

Latest Energy Releases

Energy In The News

Latest Energy Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More energy Releases