The Daily Aztec

California’s recycling system is broken

by Miles Streicek, Staff Writer

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The system of recycling in California is broken and in need of reform.

Growing up, my family always collected the bottles and cans we used and exchanged it for the CRV refund at our local recycling center.

Not too long ago, I went to drop off recyclables to the center in front of the El Cajon Boulevard Ralphs.

I realized how long it had been since I had helped take in the bottles because, to my surprise, the recycling center was gone.

Slightly confused, I went to another recycling center I knew of in City Heights, only to find out it made the odd business decision of becoming a tarot card shop.

Long story short, it took me some time to find an operational center, eventually finding one by the corner of University Avenue and 54th Street.

Needless to say, I was bewildered and slightly concerned. I knew something was up, and I was absolutely right.

There is no longer a significant demand for recycled plastic, metal or glass.

At least not nearly enough to sell all the material turned in for recycling.

All that isn’t bought by various companies gets put in the landfill along with regular trash.

As much as I hate to say it, most of what you throw in the blue bin these days isn’t actually being recycled.

In order to understand why this is, we have to understand our recycling system.

When buying a bottle of soda at the store, along with the price you have a CRV tax.

This tax is then refunded back to you if you turn the said bottle into a recycling center.

I had previously been under the impression that the CRV payment at the center was the state of California actually buying the bottles off you, but this is not so.

The state of California is virtually completely uninvolved in the process except for taxing, and then, in turn, refunding part of that tax.

After all, is every single bottle used turned in, or even half?

Essentially our not-at-all money hungry state government has turned what is supposed to be a noble effort to reduce pollution and boost sustainability into yet another way of taxing us all into poverty.

This is Democratic Party governance at its finest.

Most of this recycled material, be it put into a blue bin or turned into a recycling center, is crushed, put on palettes and shipped to China for them to use in manufacturing, to then sell those manufactured goods to the US and other consumer nations.

The trouble is, they decided last year that they would stop buying our materials because it is cheaper for them to just make their own, non-recycled plastic.

So now, over half our recyclables are not recycled.

Economics have turned against this critical aspect in preventing the destruction of our planet’s environment.

If the market has dried up, it’s time to use market economics to create new demand.

As it stands right now, it’s no cheaper to make something in the U.S. out of the recycled materials than new plastic.

So a simple way to create more demand is to take the non-refunded CRV revenue, and instead of squandering it in our wasteful state government, use it to subsidize the private sale of recycled plastic and other materials to American industrial companies, so long as it will be used in processes based in the US with US jobs.

It is critical to not extend this subsidy to any foreign organizations, as we do not want to subsidize foreign industry.

This is just one of many potential solutions to this issue.

But it is one that will ensure the material is actually recycled, strengthen American manufacturing and industry and do so without large government overreach.

Some would criticize such a plan as not being “free market.”

But it is vital that we recycle, and if it just isn’t happening as it is right now, it isn’t good enough to say there is nothing we can do.

Because this is unacceptable, and there is absolutely something that can be done.

 

Miles Streicek is a sophomore studying finance and archaeology.

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1 Comment

One Response to “California’s recycling system is broken”

  1. David on April 25th, 2019 9:43 am

    Your assumptions are incorrect about what gets recycled. You are correct about the blue bin going to landfill but the bottles and cans turned in to your local redemption center for your money back are 100% recycled. I know this personally.

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