Since the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act was passed in 1986, which established the California Beverage Container Recycling Program, more than 300 billion used beverage containers have been diverted from landfills and collected for recycling. Consumers pay California Redemption Value (CRV) when they purchase eligible beverages from a retailer and receive CRV refunds when they redeem the containers at a state certified recycling center. CRV is 5 cents for eligible containers less than 24 ounces and 10 cents for eligible containers 24 ounces or larger. In some areas, however, people do not have convenient options to recycle and collect the CRV of beverages they bought.

The beverage container pilot program aims to increase the convenience of recycling in areas that do not have enough recycling centers. The law allows CalRecycle to approve pilot project recyclers to have greater flexibility for how recycling centers choose to redeem beverage containers, including mobile recycling and stationary drop-off locations.

Former Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 458 (Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017) into law on October 10, 2017. This legislation authorized CalRecycle to approve up to five pilot projects proposed by jurisdictions to provide convenient beverage container redemption in both urban and rural areas that do not have enough recycling opportunities. On April 2, 2019 the Office of Administrative Law approved regulations to implement PRC Sections 14515.8 and 14571.9.

The pilot program requires that local jurisdictions and recycling center operators work closely together to provide more redemption opportunities for consumers. The jurisdictions need to meet certain eligibility requirements and then apply for a pilot project. Pilot project recyclers need to apply for certification in jurisdictions where there is an approved pilot project. Pilot project recyclers are eligible to receive handling fees for material redeemed and have flexibility to create innovative recycling business models.  In addition, consumers will have new and convenient ways to recycle. 

On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 54 (Ting, Chapter 793, Statutes of 2019) into law.  AB 54 made changes to the program to allow for greater flexibility and to provide funding to support pilot projects. 

Program Status

CalRecycle has awarded all five (5) recycling pilot projects as authorized by the California Legislature.  The five pilot projects are:

  1. City of San Francisco
  2. City of Culver City
  3. San Mateo County Group, which includes the City of Daly City, the City of Half Moon Bay, and the County of San Mateo (unincorporated).
  4. City of Irvine
  5. North Bay Group, with includes the cities of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale.

By statute, CalRecycle cannot approve any more pilot project applications unless an approved pilot project ceases to participate in the program.

  • The Division may accept and review additional pilot project applications until prior to January 1, 2022, or until there are five approved pilot projects. 
  • Any pilot project applications submitted while there are five approved pilot projects shall not be accepted by CalRecycle.

Here’s a link to some Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information please contact: Michael Vanderburg 

Highlights of AB 54

In late 2019, there were changes and additions to the CalRecycle pilot program as a result of AB 54 legislation.  Highlights of the legislation include:

  • Extends the deadline for jurisdictions to be authorized for a pilot to January 1, 2022.
  • Extends the operational end date for pilots to July 1, 2022.
  • Allows pilot project recyclers to operate recycling redemption locations anywhere within a pilot project area, whether inside or outside of a Convenience Zone (CZ).
  • Allows pilot project recyclers to be eligible for handling fees anywhere within a pilot project area.
  • Adjusts requirements for days and hours of pilot project operation.
  • Provides the opportunity to apply for a pilot project grant to assist with the funding of approved pilot projects.

Highlights of the CalRecycle Pilot Program

  • CalRecycle may authorize up to five pilot projects proposed by jurisdictions.
  • These pilot projects will operate until July 1, 2022.
  • To be eligible to apply, the jurisdiction must meet at least one of the following criteria as of the effective date of the pilot project application: 
    1. Had at least 6 unserved convenience zones.
    2. Had at least 75 percent of all convenience zones unserved.
    3. Was located in a region designated as "rural."
  • To be eligible for consideration by CalRecycle, the proposed pilot project must serve at least one of the following:
    1. At least 3 unserved convenience zones.
    2. One or more convenience zone impacting at least 30 dealers.
    3. A rural region.
  • CalRecycle may approve multiple recyclers or operators to serve each pilot project. In other words, a pilot project in a city/county could include more than one recycling site, company, or approach.
  • These pilot project recyclers will need to work with the approved jurisdictions and become certified by CalRecycle.
  • Compared to traditional certifications, pilot project recyclers have additional flexibility, including reduced hours of operation. Jurisdictions may propose alternative methods of redemption, such as stationary drop-off locations or mobile collection programs.
  • In addition to CRV reimbursement, recyclers operating within a pilot project may be eligible for other program payments:
    1. Handling fees, paid on a per-container basis, to recycling program operators near large grocery stores.
    2. Processing payments, paid on a per-pound basis, to program operators to help cover the costs of collecting and recycling materials that would not otherwise be economic to handle.