Wieckowski proposes comprehensive reform of state's outdated recycling program

April 6, 2017

Sacramento – Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, has introduced legislation for a comprehensive overhaul of California’s antiquated bottle recycling program.  Senate Bill 168, amended today, establishes a new streamlined stewardship program that reduces the Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery’s (CalRecycle) administrative role.

“SB 168 is in line with Governor Brown’s call for a comprehensive solution to the problems plaguing today’s outdated system,” Wieckowski said.  “After more than 30 years, it is time to move beyond tinkering with the status quo.  The system is convoluted and mired in periodic structural deficits.  Building on recommendations from the Governor’s stakeholder meetings, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and the Senate Environmental Quality Committee oversight hearing on recycling in February, this bill creates a product stewardship model, approved by CalRecycle, that places redemption and recycling responsibilities on those who are distributing beverages inside California. This reduces the state’s bureaucratic functions.  CalRecycle’s focus will be where it is most efficient – on oversight and enforcement of the recycling program – not administering a bureaucracy.”

Created in 1986, the current system has prevented billions of single-use beverage containers from becoming litter on our streets and going into our landfills.  But after three decades, the system is slow to adapt to changes, often has significant structural deficits and relies too heavily on consumers for financing.

Under Wieckowski’s SB 168, distributors must form a Beverage Container Stewardship Organization (BCSO) by October 2018 to develop, implement, and administer a beverage container stewardship program.  CalRecycle would notify the BCSO of its decision whether to certify the organization.  CalRecyle would also review the BCSO’s redemption and recycling plan for approval.  Distributors and dealers would be prohibited from distributing or selling their beverages in California unless they are in compliance.

On or before 2020, CalRecycle, in consultation with the BCSO, would adopt regulations for the orderly transition from the current Bottle Bill to the Beverage Container Stewardship Program.  On Jan. 1, 2021, the new stewardship program would take effect.

“We cannot continue to apply temporary, stop-gap solutions to this system and expect its problems to disappear,” Wieckowski said.  “A new and improved stewardship model is needed to adapt to today’s changes in recycling. It is time to can the old program, and usher in a new program based on extended producer responsibility, accountability, and efficiency.”

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes parts of Alameda County and Santa Clara County.