According to a report release in February, California consumers missed out on at least $308 million in nickel deposits on cans and bottles last year. The report was released by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which claims that it’s increasingly difficult to find a place to recycle the bottles and cans to receive the nickel deposits. The state claims that 1,600 recycling centers are open statewide, despite that fact that around 40 percent of California’s recycling centers have closed within the last five years. Consumer Watchdog believes that there are still barriers that prevent Californians from finding a place to recycle, one of them being that many grocery stores won’t take back the recycled bottles and cans. Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court stated the following regarding the recycle program in California,

Californians plunk down a nickel for their cans… but increasingly they’re only getting half that nickel back on average. Consumers are losing, the environment is losing.

The advocacy group gave several suggestions in its report for reforms to help California’s recycling program, which is 33-year-old and has struggled to be profitable. One of these suggestions is that state regulators increase their oversight of the program and become more aggressive when it comes to fining major retailers that refuse to redeem containers or undercount the number of deposits they collect. Apparently, California consumers are also missing out on $200 million in deposits that go to commercial trash haulers and bulk collectors. State Senator Henry Stern has introduced a bill that would restrict which retailers must accept containers and allow around $3 million in annual incentives to help low-volume recycling centers remain open. Last year, a similar bill was passed by the legislature, but it was vetoed by then Governor Jerry Brown. We will have to wait if this new bill is passed and if Governor Gavin Newsom will sign it into law.

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