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Bottle and Can Recycling

Californians recycled 86 percent of their beverage containers in the first half of 2010. Aluminum cans were recycled at a 95 percent rate, glass  bottles reached 90 percent, and PET (#1 plastic) was 74 percent. PET containers include water and soft drink plastic bottles.

What is California Refund Value?

California Refund Value (CRV) is the amount paid by consumers at the checkout stand and paid back to consumers when they recycle eligible aluminum, plastic, glass and bi-metal beverage containers at certified recycling centers. The minimum refund value established for each type of eligible beverage container is 5 cents for each container under 24 ounces and 10 cents for each container 24 ounces or greater.

Where can I find the nearest recycling center?

There are approximately 2,000 certified recycling centers in California. To find centers near you, visit CalRecycle’s online recycling center locator Or, call the Beverage Container Recycling Center at 1-800-RECYCLE.

What other recycling options are there?

  • Donate recyclables to a community service program.
  • Utilize available curbside recycling programs.

As with certified recycling centers, these programs are operated by independent businesses, nonprofits, or local governments, not the State of California.

How much do recycling centers pay per pound?

Recycling centers are allowed to pay by weight as a matter of business efficiency. The Beverage Container Recycling Center establishes the minimum per-pound commingled rate and segregated rates for each container type: aluminum, glass, plastic and bi-metal. Recycling centers pay the CRV to consumers for their redeemed beverage containers. Find out the latest per-pound rates. In addition to the CRV, recyclers may also pay a scrap value, which fluctuates according to current demand for the recycled material. Consumers also have the option of being paid on a per-container basis if they bring in 50 or fewer CRV containers of each material type. Recycling centers are required to comply with this request.

Can recycling centers pay less than the refund value for redeemed containers?

Yes, if the material is contaminated. Operators of certified recycling centers must inspect each load of containers to determine whether it is eligible for the CRV. Recycling centers have the option to refuse to accept containers that, in their opinion, are excessively contaminated with dirt, moisture, or other foreign substances. Alternatively, recycling centers may adjust the CRV per pound downward to calculate the payment by the ratio of such substances to empty beverage containers. In this circumstance, the consumer has the right to accept the discounted refund and/or scrap price, to separate refund from nonrefund material, or to take the material back.

Why aren’t all beverages included in the recycling program?

The composition of beverages included in the program is determined by statute, Section 14504 of the Public Resources Code.

The following beverages sold in aluminum, glass, plastic, and bimetal containers are included in the program:

  • Beer and other malt beverages
  • Wine and distilled spirit coolers
  • Vegetable juice 16 ounces or less in volume
  • Carbonated and noncarbonated water, soda and mineral water, and similar soft drinks
  • Carbonated and noncarbonated fruit drinks that contain any percentage of fruit juice
  • Noncarbonated soft drinks and sport drinks
  • Coffee and tea drinks
  • Carbonated and noncarbonated fruit drinks

The following beverages are excluded from the program:

  • Any product sold in a container that is not aluminum, glass, plastic, or bimetal.
  • Wine, or wine from which alcohol has been removed, in whole or in part, whether or not sparkling or carbonated.
  • Milk
  • Medical food
  • Infant formula
  • Vegetable juice in containers 16 ounces or greater in volume
  • 100 percent fruit juice in containers 46 ounces or greater in volume
  • Distilled spirits
  • Any beverage container product type that is not specifically included by the Act.

Can I get CRV for beverage containers brought in from other states or countries?

No, out-of-state material is not eligible for California Refund Value. Consumers and others may only claim CRV for aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers that were sold in California.

Do I need to crush my cans?

Generally, no. However, requirements regarding the condition of beverage containers are established by the recycling center and may vary. Contact the nearest recycling center to determine its requirements.

Do I need to remove the caps from my plastic bottles?

Requirements regarding plastic bottle caps are established by the recycling center and may vary. Contact the nearest recycling center to determine its requirements, but generally speaking, it’s best to remove all bottle caps.

How can I contact the Beverage Container Recycling Program?

801 K Street, MS 19-01
Sacramento, CA 95814-3533
Phone: (916) 323-3836
Hotline: 1-800-RECYCLE
Fax: (916) 327-2144