Beverage Container Recycling Pilot Program FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

1. If I’m interested in the new recycling pilot project program (pilot program), or have questions about it, who do I contact first?

Please contact

2. What is the new pilot program?

SB 458 authorized a new beverage container recycling pilot program. This new pilot program allows cities, counties, and companies to partner together to open new and innovative types of redemption opportunities to serve areas that do not have enough beverage container recycling locations. These innovative recycling centers can be mobile recycling centers (RCs), stationary staffed RCs, reverse vending machines (RVM), pick-up services, stationary drop-off sites, or combinations of these. If you have an innovative recycling center idea not listed here, please contact us to see if it is allowable under the pilot program.
For more information, contact

3. Where can I read a copy of the pilot program legislation and regulations?

    • Statute and regulations
    • SB 458 (Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017) (established the pilot program)
    • AB 54 (Ting, Chapter 793, Statutes of 2019) (revised the pilot program)
    • AB 128 (Ting, Chapter 21, Budget Act of 2021) (revised the pilot program)
    • AB 148 (Committee on Budget, Chapter 115, Statutes of 2021) (revised the pilot program)

4. Where can I read a copy of the pilot program regulations?

Pilot program regulations

5. Where can I get copies of pilot project application forms?

To start the pilot program application process, please contact

6. Do I need to get permission from my city or county to participate in the CalRecycle pilot program? 

Yes. The jurisdiction itself must have an approved pilot project and will be required to authorize a pilot project recycler in order for the recycler to obtain certification. Additionally, CalRecycle strongly encourages all businesses and companies to contact their local jurisdiction (city or county) to confirm local rules, regulations, and ordinances related to recycling center zoning requirements, operational requirements, and business license requirements.

7. What should I do if my city or county will not allow me to operate a pilot project recycling program? 

The beverage container recycling pilot program is a voluntary program, and as a result, jurisdictions are not required to participate. However, if you want to work with a jurisdiction that meets the eligibility requirements, please contact us so that we can reach out to the jurisdiction to explain the possible benefits of participation.

Please contact

8. How many pilot projects, or pilot project recyclers, can CalRecycle approve at any one time? 

According to SB 458, CalRecycle may approve up to five (5) pilot projects to operate at one time. CalRecycle must approve all pilot projects by January 1, 2022.

However, pilot project recyclers that serve the pilot projects are not limited in number and CalRecycle can continue to approve recycler applications for the duration of the pilot program.

9. Where can a pilot project recycler be located?

A pilot project recycler may serve an urban area, rural area, or both. A pilot project recycler may provide redemption opportunities anywhere within the pilot project area, whether in a Convenience Zone (CZ) or not.

10. Does the pilot program have a start date?

CalRecycle is currently accepting pilot project jurisdiction and recycler applications. CalRecycle has specific timelines to review and approve or deny pilot project applications.

11. Does the pilot program have an end date?

CalRecycle can approve pilot projects until June 30, 2025.  The pilot project program concludes on June 30, 2026.

12. Will pilot project recyclers be eligible to receive handling fees?

Pilot project recyclers may be eligible to receive handling fees if all eligibility requirements are met, including, but not limited to:

    • Being certified, operational, and accepting and paying the refund value to consumers for all empty eligible beverage container material types.
    • Per AB 54, for purposes of handling fee eligibility, a pilot project recycler may be located anywhere within a pilot project area.

13. Does a pilot project recycler have to be located at a dealer site in an urban area to qualify for handling fees?

No. The pilot program allows for a recycling center to not be located at a dealer site and still be eligible to receive handling fees, assuming they meet all the requirements.

14. For purposes of the pilot program, what is an unserved zone?

For the purposes of the pilot program, an unserved zone is any convenience zone that is not served by a recycling center.

15. Where can I get other questions about the pilot program answered?

Please contact

16. What significant changes have been made to the Pilot Program?

The pilot project program allows for CalRecycle to authorize redemption methods as designed by the local government(s) and pilot project recyclers that these partnerships feel will best serve their unique communities.  It is an opportunity to move away from the “one size fits all” method of redemption used in California since the 1980s.

As the pilot program was developed, adjustments to the original authorizing legislation (SB 458, Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017) were needed to best serve the people of California.  With interest from jurisdictions in other areas of the state that could benefit from customized redemption opportunities, the Legislature realized that extending the sunset date and adding more pilots would be needed.  This additional time helped to offset the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic that created unanticipated challenges delaying the pilots’ abilities to become operational. These changes allow CalRecycle to take a more comprehensive look at these new beverage container redemption methods.  These changes were made through the legislation referenced below.

AB 54 (Ting, Chapter 793, Statutes of 2019):

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

AB 128 (Ting, Chapter 21, Budget Act of 2021): Provided additional funding for new or existing pilot projects.

AB 148 (Committee on Budget, Chapter 115, Statutes of 2021): Expanded the number of pilot projects and extended the timeline for the pilot project program through June 30, 2026.

For more information, visit Beverage Container Recycling Home