California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Beverage Container Recycling: It's in Your Hands

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is California Refund Value?

California Refund Value (CRV) is the amount paid by consumers at the checkout stand and paid back to consumers when they recycle eligible aluminum, plastic, glass and bi-metal beverage containers at certified recycling centers. The minimum refund value established for each type of eligible beverage container is 5 cents for each container under 24 ounces and 10 cents for each container 24 ounces or greater.

Where can I find the nearest recycling center?

There are approximately 2,000 certified recycling centers in California. To find centers near you, visit our online recycling center locator or call 1-800-RECYCLE.

What other recycling options are there?

  • Donate recyclables to a community service program.
  • Utilize available curbside recycling programs.

As with certified recycling centers, these programs are operated by independent businesses, nonprofits, or local governments, not the State of California.

How can kids get involved in recycling?

Kids can definitely recycle too! Put them in charge of making sure recyclables end up in the curbside bin. Or have them sort the bottles and cans consumed at your house, and give them a portion of the refunds you get at your local recycling center. One more way for kids to get in on recycling is to encourage their schools to start a recycling program. It’s a great way to raise money!

How much do recycling centers pay per pound?

Recycling centers are allowed to pay by weight as a matter of business efficiency. The Beverage Container Recycling Program establishes the minimum per-pound rates for each container type: aluminum, glass, plastic and bi-metal. Recycling centers pay the CRV to consumers for their redeemed beverage containers. In addition to the CRV, recyclers may also pay a scrap value, which fluctuates according to current demand for the recycled material. Find out the latest per-pound rates. Consumers also have the option of being paid on a per-container basis if they bring in 50 or fewer CRV containers of each material type. Recycling centers are required to comply with this request.

What are the rules regarding being paid on a per-container basis?

California law allows you the option of being paid based on count instead of weight for up to 50 empty beverage containers of each material type. This means you can bring up to 50 aluminum, 50 glass, 50 plastic, and 50 bi-metal California Redemption Value (CRV) containers and request to be paid by count. Recycling centers are required to comply with this rule, found in the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Chapter 5, Section 2535(b), and thus pay you the full CRV redemption of 5 cents or 10 cents on each container. Just be sure that you inform the site attendant of your load content and how you would like to receive payment before you hand over your load. Any consumer who has been denied this right by a recycling center can file a complaint via email or by calling 1-800-RECYCLE.

Can I be paid on a per-container basis for more than 50 containers?

If you’re recycling more than 50 containers of any one material type, the decision to pay by count or weight is under the authority of the recycling center operator.

Can recycling centers pay less than the refund value for redeemed containers?

Yes, if the material is contaminated. Operators of certified recycling centers must inspect each load of containers to determine whether it is eligible for the CRV. Recycling centers have the option to refuse to accept containers that, in their opinion, are excessively contaminated with dirt, moisture, or other foreign substances. Alternatively, recycling centers may adjust the CRV per pound downward to calculate the payment by the ratio of such substances to empty beverage containers. In this circumstance, the consumer has the right to accept the discounted refund and/or scrap price, to separate refund from nonrefund material, or to take the material back.

Can I get CRV for beverage containers brought in from other states or countries?

No, out-of-state material is not eligible for California Refund Value. Consumers and others may only claim CRV for aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers that were sold in California.

Do I need to crush my cans?

Generally, no. However, requirements regarding the condition of beverage containers are established by the recycling center and may vary. Contact the nearest recycling center to determine its requirements.

Do I need to remove the caps from my bottles?

When recycling, we suggest you empty your bottles and put the caps back on the bottles. Note, however, your recycling center may ask that caps be off.

How can I contact the Beverage Container Recycling Program?

801 K Street, MS 19-01
Sacramento, CA 95814-3533
Phone: (916) 323-3836
Hotline: 1-800-RECYCLE
Fax: (916) 327-2144

Where can I recycle my motor oil or old tires? Can I get a list of businesses that sell products made from recycled materials?

Information on recycling various materials (motor oil, tires, ewaste, etc.) can be found on the CalRecycle website or by calling (916) 322-4027.