Aluminum can recycling in California hits 107 percent

Aluminum can recycling in California hits 107 percent

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Nov. 20, 2013

California's aluminum can recycling rate reached 107 percent during the first half of 2013, an indicator that the state's beverage container recycling program is not yet out of the woods in its fight against importation fraud.

The figures, first reported by American Metal Market (AMM), represent a 9 percentage point jump year-over-year (YOY).  According to CalRecycle data, 3.77 billion aluminum cans were sold between January and June of 2013, while 4.03 billion cans were redeemed.

CalRecycle, the agency responsible for overseeing and reporting on the state's deposit program, explained to AMM that the most recent figure may be inflated due to a new calculation method and is not necessarily a result of fraud alone.

The state's overall beverage container recycling rate reached 93 percent, up 6 points YOY.

In late August, CalRecycle indicated it was on pace to being insolvent by 2015 if the program was not restructured. Bottle redemption fraud was cited by the organizations as a major hindrance to the program.

At the beginning of 2013, the state passed a law to more closely monitor large out-of-state imports of aluminum cans. CalRecycle's communications director Mark Oldfield told AMM the law had worked. "Anecdotally, at least, we believe we are seeing a decrease in imports," Oldfield said. Additional regulations, he added, could be on the way to help save the embattled redemption program. "We support these regulations and are confident it would reduce all types of importation fraud for recycled material."

On Tuesday, the agency announced it had ordered two California recyclers to pay $2 million in restitution for bottle fraud.

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