MOORLACH UPDATE — Recycling Bottled Up — June 10, 2017

Last week the Senate failed to approve Senator Wieckowski’s bottle bill, SB 168. It failed by a vote of 14-to-17, with 9 abstentions. It’s a rare day when a bill authored by a Democrat doesn’t get the votes needed to pass. But, it provides a chance for me to rant and show how messed up Sacramento is.

Senator Wieckowski provided three important aspects to his bill. The first is that he worked diligently to craft it, reflecting a serious amount of time invested. The second is that it would transfer this money-losing reclaiming project onto the private sector. And the third is that he warned that it was his bill or a budget trailer bill that was supported by the Governor.

The Yuba Net provides the conclusion of the story, at least for now, in the commentary piece below. For the set up of this lament, go to But, remember, although a good primer on the topic, this link is provided to you by the same organization that wrote the Yuba Net piece.

Let me bring you back to the beginning. SB 168, The Beverage Container Recycling Act of 2017, made it through the Senate Environmental Quality Committee with the necessary votes, but found the two Republicans abstaining. It was placed on suspense by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 15 and then voted to the Floor on May 25, with the two Republican committee members voting in opposition.

This vote moved SB 168 to the Senate Floor and the lobbyists came out en masse to oppose the bill. It would place an onerous financial burden on the private sector, including every bottler. This would mean that even small wineries with direct sales would be impacted.

I appreciated Sen. Wieckowski’s hard work to craft a solution. The Moorlach family recycles and leaves our bottles for our landscaper’s crew, as a tip.

I also appreciated that Sen. Wieckowski was attempting to move the program to the private sector, and I praised him for it on the Senate Floor. At a time when colleagues on his side of the aisle wanted to assume the entire medical industry, I found it refreshing that one Democrat was saying that CalRecycle was a bust and that the function should be outsourced.

The irony was not lost on me! California’s state government can’t seem to run anything very well. Be it recycling or maintaining roads. Nor can it do it more efficiently than the private sector. So, taking on health care should make everyone extremely nervous.

But, requiring even small, independent wineries, those that only sell to those who visit or order directly, as they are not household brands distributed through major wholesalers and retailers, to participate seemed a bit much. Consequently, I abstained.

Thursday night, when the Governor’s version came up for a vote during the Budget Conference Committee, it also failed. It was another rare moment when the Republicans and Democrats agreed.

However, this tale also shows how government cannot react quickly enough to market force changes. California has a bureaucracy that is so large and unmanageable, that this Governor cannot lead and resolve even a simple task as addressing a struggling recycling program.

This Governor needs to fix this state and he is not doing it. Spending time traveling around the globe on behalf of the climate change topic is a distraction that is keeping him from performing the real duties to which he was elected. Let’s hope his successor is not another recycled Jerry Brown. This state needs a fiscal leader at the helm. And soon.

State Recycling Plan In Limbo After Senate Rejects Governor, Assembly Fix

More than 560 Recycling Centers Have Closed; Rates Below 80% for first time since 2008.

By Californians Against Waste

Despite closed recycling centers and falling recycling rates, Senate members of the Budget Conference Committee last night rejected a proposal supported by the State Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown to fix the problem.

The action came late last night as the Conference Committee on the Budget finalized a 2017-18 budget agreement between both houses of the state legislature and the Governor’s office.

The recycling proposal advanced by the Assembly and supported by the Governor’s office would have authorized the California Department of Resources Recovery and Recycling (CalRecycle), to utilize a portion of the $250 million surplus in the State Beverage Container Recycling Fund, to fund the state’s recycling infrastructure at 2015 levels.

Since program funding levels were reduced in 2016, more than 560 recycling centers have closed and beverage container recycling rates have fallen below 80% for the first time since 2008. Data from CalRecycle indicates that 1.6 million fewer containers per day were recycled during the last 6 months of 2016, resulting in more than 22,000 tons of increased litter and waste.

“Despite a $250 million fund surplus, California’s recycling operations are being short changed, resulting in closed centers and declining recycling rates,” said Mark Murray, executive director of the environmental group Californians Against Waste. “The State Assembly has consistently supported full funding, and this week the Governor’s office got on board.”

No word on why the State Senate rejected the proposal. The Conference Committee on the Budget is chaired by State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). Other members include: Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens); Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa); Senator Jim Nielsen (R- Gerber); and Senator Richard Roth (D – Riverside). The proposal was authored by Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting (D – San Francisco).

The recycling program budget fix was supported by a broad coalition of local governments, recycler, curbside programs, retailers and environmental groups. There was no known opposition.

The loss of recycling centers has hit rural areas especially hard. For consumers who try to supplement family income by redeeming containers, the loss of buyback recycling locations has reduced total redemption pay-back by more than $3 million per month.

In an April report to the Legislature, California’s Legislative Analyst’s office attributed the closures to a decline in scrap prices and “program payments that do not sufficiently cover recycler costs”.

As recently as 2013, the California Bottle Bill had an 85 percent recycling rate, diverting more than one million tons of plastic, glass and metal, and contributing thousands of jobs and more than $2 billion to the state’s economy, while delivering the equivalent of 1.45 million tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions.


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