EDITORIAL - THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
March 5, 2019
In a state as devoted to the environment as California, it’s hard to imagine state leaders accepting a sharp decline in recycling. But that’s what has happened since January 2016, when recycling centers that gather single-use plastic, metal and glass bottles from consumers began closing in droves because reimbursement rates from the California Department of Resources Recycling (CalRecycle) were so low centers couldn’t stay in business. By May 2017, more than 500 recycling centers had closed and more than 1 million recyclable plastic bottles were being thrown away every day in state.
Now Consumer Watchdog has issued a report framing this issue in a different way. It says that because of a lack of access to recycling, state consumers are losing out on $308 million annually in the 5 and 10 cent deposits they pay when buying recyclable cans and bottles. That’s a concern, but the unnecessary waste issue still seems a bigger deal.
Consumer Watchdog suggests increasing the minimum deposit to 10 cents a container, which has led to more than 90 percent recycling rates in Oregon and Michigan, versus about 75 percent in California. State Sen. Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, has proposed a bill providing $3 million in incentives to keep recycling centers in business.
The decline of recycling was one of many issues it’s now clear that Gov. Jerry Brown inexplicably chose to ignore. But if he wants to live up to his environmentalist bona fides, new Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to get involved — either by backing already-proposed fixes or coming up with some of his own.