Californians are recycling bottles less and less. Here's what's going on
In a state that prides itself as a global leader in protecting the environment, recycling rates for beverage containers have dropped to their lowest point in almost a decade amid the continued closure of centers that pay for bottles and cans and the fallout from changes to California's recycling program.
Beyond the environmental concerns, the financial effects are also growing — pinching large supermarket chains and low-income residents.
Beverage container recycling rates in California have fallen below 80% for the first time since 2008, according to data recently released by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle. In 2016, 79.8% of beverage containers were recycled, down from 81% in 2015. The beverage container recycling rate had reached a high of 85% as recently as 2013.
Southern California residents have fewer options to cash in on recyclables recently. The values of plastic, glass and aluminum have decreased, prompting many recycling centers to close in the last two years and putting pressure on the remaining centers, which are struggling to meet the demand with little funds.