Still a Recycling Leader, California Recycles the Second-Highest Number of Bottles and Cans Ever

kids recycling

The U.S. EPA released new recycling statistics that illustrate that California remains a nationwide leader with a beverage container recycling rate year after year more than double the nation's average of 33%. Last year California recycled the second highest number of bottles and cans in the state's history.

Despite the recent decline in aluminum scrap markets, Californians continued to show their commitment to recycling with: 

  • A 76 percent recycling rate, recycling 18.5 billion beverage containers in 2018. 
  • A slight increase in the recycling rate from a 75 percent beverage container recycling rate in 2017.
  • A continued high recycling rate in 2019, which is on track to recycle over 18 billion more CRV containers this year.

The average beverage container recycling rate for all US states in 2017 was 33.1 percent.

California’s 2017 beverage container recycling rate for all material types was 75 percent that year.  California recycles more bottles and cans than any other state.

California is one of ten states with a beverage container deposit law (known as a Bottle Bill) to encourage beverage container recycling. The California Beverage Container Recycling and Littler Reduction Act was passed in 1986 to incentivize the recycling of plastic, glass, and aluminum bottles and cans. California recycles by far the largest number of beverage containers each year. We rank fourth in the nation in the percentage of beverage containers recycled, despite our unique challenges as the state with the highest population and the largest geographic area among the top ten states for beverage container recycling. We serve almost 40 million people with great geographic, cultural, and economic diversity.  

 

State Population Recycling Rate (Beverage Containers) Recycling Volume
(Beverage Containers)
California 39.8 million 76% (2018) 18,588,304,236
Connecticut 3.5 million 50% (2018) 725,034,130
Hawaii 1.4 million 65% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
Iowa 3.1 million 71% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
Maine 1.3 million 84% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
Massachusetts 6.9 million 57% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
Michigan 9.9 million 91% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
New York 19.5 million 66% (2016) 5,100,000,000
Oregon 4.1 million 81% (2018) Not Publicly Listed
Vermont 626,299 75% (2017) Not Publicly Listed
 

Our department is working hard to ensure consumers have access to convenient recycling options and places to redeem their bottles and cans following the closing of rePlanet Recycling Centers, the largest recycling company in the state.

CalRecycle has expedited certification for 66 new recycling centers. 

California is on track to recycle more than 18 billion bottles and cans in 2019.

More than 50 recycling centers have opened since August 2019.

We will continue to work on multiple fronts to help more centers open in unserved areas, and to hold retailers accountable for their obligation to redeem CRV in areas not served by recycling centers.

Learn more about California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program at calrecycle.ca.gov/BevContainer. In addition to finding recycling statistics, and detailed information on the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund, local funding opportunities for innovative new models of CRV redemption, you can also find the nearest CRV redemption opportunity in your area.

— Lance Klug
Posted on Dec 10, 2019

Summary: The U.S. EPA released new recycling statistics that illustrate that California remains a nationwide leader with a recycling rate year after year above the nation's average of 33%. Last year California recycled the second highest number of bottles and cans in the state's history.