Lawmakers think they could add $300 million a year to the CRV fund. That's on top of the $1 billion the state already collects. While Californians are already good recyclers, they think they could do a better job with smaller bottles.
Despite a 75 percent recycling rate on beverage containers, lawmakers sent Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., a bill that would boost the deposit on bottles and cans and make it applicable to more products.
The California Redemption Value, or CRV, on drinks 20 ounces or above would double from five cents to ten cents. The threshold is currently 24 ounces and more products like juices in a jug or carton or in little pouches would be now be subjected to the environmental fee.
"By putting this CRV, we're giving consumers an opportunity and an incentive to go out and recycle that container, making sure that if it gets inadvertently littered, somebody else might be motivated to pick it up off the side of the road," says Mark Murray from Californians Against Waste.
Some people are upset with the proposed expansion because they end up paying extra for something to drink. They think it's a hassle to take their bottles and cans to a recycling center that's sometimes inconveniently far away.
"People who go out to the recyclers, we're spending gas to the recyclers; so you really aren't gaining because gas is so expensive," says LaToya Griffin, a CRV opponent.
Taxpayer groups aren't exactly thrilled either. Lawmakers have been raiding the CRV fund to help balance the state budget, nearly half a billion since 2002. So in essence, they say, this is a hidden tax since some of it isn't going towards environmental purposes.
"It really looks like a tax. It walks like a tax. It quacks like a tax. We think it's a tax," says Jon Coupal, from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Preston Bleak, who is homeless, makes $20 a day collecting recyclable containers. He thinks he can live better if the CRV is higher and applied to more products.
"That's how I support myself. I get my food, my dog food, my needs, cleaning material," says Preston Bleak, a homeless recycler.
If Governor Schwarzenegger doesn't sign the bill, the CRV fund would go broke. State-subsidized recycling depots could close and local conservation corps would lose much of their funding.