Senate Committee approves Wieckowski bill to transform the state's Bottle Bill program

SB 168 creates beverage stewardship organization and shifts CalRecycle's role to oversight, enforcement

April 19, 2017

Sacramento – Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) legislation to comprehensively reform California’s outdated beverage recycling program passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee this afternoon. 

“After three decades, periodic budget deficits and 75 previously enacted patchwork bills, Senate Bill 168 provides the restructuring that is needed to make the Bottle Bill program more effective, stable, and flexible,” said Wieckowski, the chair of the Environmental Quality Committee.  “This bill builds on the three principles laid out by Governor Brown:  improving recycling and remanufacturing; sharing responsibility; and enhancing adaptability and sustainability.  It creates a distributor stewardship organization and limits CalRecycle’s role, but not its responsibility.  It’s the comprehensive solution the state has long sought and a roadmap for transitioning from the status quo to a stewardship program by 2021.  Under the new program, all stakeholders are in.  There are no carve outs.  The state does what it is supposed to do – set goals and oversee the program.”

The Governor laid out his principles during stakeholder meetings earlier this year.  SB 168 expands the recycling program to include wine and distilled spirits bottles, adding one billion bottles to the system.  It requires CalRecycle to develop minimum content requirements for beverage containers to boost remanufacturing.  It reduces the adverse impacts of proportionally reduced payments by providing that California Redemption Value (CRV) payments do not need to rely on the fluctuating price of scrap value. 

The current program was created in 1986.  But after 30 years it has become slow to adapt to changes, plagued by occasional deficits and too reliant on consumers for its financing.

Under Wieckowski’s timeline, distributors must form a Beverage Container Stewardship Organization (BSCO) by October 2018 to develop, implement, and administer a stewardship program.  CalRecycle must certify the organization and its plan before the stewardship program can go into effect. Distributors would register with the BSCO and all distributors and dealers would be prohibited from distributing or selling their beverages in California unless they are in compliance.

By Jan. 1, 2020, CalRecycle shall adopt regulations for the transition from the current Bottle Bill to the BCSO.  The following January, the stewardship program takes effect.

The Environmental Quality Committee held an oversight hearing on the Bottle Bill program in February.  At the hearing, Wieckowski said although the program prevents billions of single-use containers from going into landfills or becoming garbage, the patchwork approach is littered with problems and major reform is needed.

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