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California’s UBC recycling at new high

Keywords: Tags  aluminum UBC, used beverage container, California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, CalRecycle, CRV, Mark Oldfield, Nathan Laliberte

NEW YORK — California’s aluminum used beverage container (UBC) recycling rate reached a record-high 107 percent in the first six months of this year, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

UBC recycling jumped from 90 percent in the second half of last year, while overall beverage container recycling—including glass and plastics—increased 16 points to 93 percent in the same comparison, according to CalRecycle.

The recycling rate is calculated by dividing the number of beverage containers redeemed by the number of beverage cans sold, the department said in its biannual report of beverage container sales, returns, redemption and recycling rates.

Recycling rates exceeding 100 percent can be a sign of importation fraud—an issue California has been dealing with since it increased refunds in 2007 to a nickel for containers less than 24 ounces and a dime for larger containers (, Feb. 7, 2011).

"Although the recycling rate appears to be very high, there are reasons for that," CalRecycle communications director Mark Oldfield told AMM, noting that recycling rates historically are higher than in winter months and that CalRecycle recently changed its calculation methodology. Based on those new metrics, there are a "higher number of containers per pound, although the redemption rate is the same," he said.

Oldfield conceded that importation fraud continues to be a focus for CalRecycle. "At the beginning of this year, there was a new state law that mandated people bringing in 25 pounds of recycled aluminum cans have to go through inspection," he said. "Anecdotally, at least, we believe we are seeing a decrease in imports."

He added that there are regulations pending that would reduce daily recycling limits for individuals to 100 pounds for aluminum, 100 pound for plastic and 1,000 pounds for glass. "We support these regulations and are confident it would reduce all types of importation fraud for recycled material," Oldfield said.

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