Beverage Container Recycling Programs Defined

Recycling Center (RC)

Operators of recycling centers redeem CRV beverage containers from the general public as well as from other certified recycling centers, dropoff or collection programs, community service programs and curbside programs. The containers redeemed must be properly labeled and purchased in California. The center pays, at a minimum, the CRV value of the containers. It is optional whether or not a scrap value is added, but this is one incentive that the center may use to attract customers. Certified recycling centers must redeem all eligible container types; however, a certified recycling center operator is not required to buy non-CRV materials from consumers.

Some certified recycling centers are equipped with “reverse vending machines” that pay customers for beverage containers placed in the machine. Other operations include staffed centers with bins or a truck with a staff person on-site to pay the CRV and possibly scrap value. These recycling centers are often located within one mile of a supermarket as required by the “convenience zone” aspect of the Program.

Operators must be certified for each recycling center location they operate.

When the operator of a certified recycling center sells the beverage containers to another certified recycling center or a processor, the CRV payment is repaid to the operator and generally a scrap price also. The scrap payment is where the recycling center will make its profit on the beverage containers. Arrangements for the transportation of the goods to the certified recycler or processor is the responsibility of the certified recycling center.

Nonprofit Convenience Zone Recycler

To be qualified as a nonprofit convenience zone recycler, the operator of the site must be a nonprofit organization as established under Section 501(c) or 501(d) of Title 26 of the United States Code and have recycling centers which are certified and located anywhere within a convenience zone. The location of the recycling center does not need to be in a supermarket parking lot, but it can still qualify to receive Handling Fee payments.

Processing Facility (PR)

Processors buy empty beverage containers from certified recyclers, dropoff or collection, community service and curbside programs. They pay these programs, at a minimum, the CRV payment plus possibly a scrap price. In addition to buying materials from recyclers, processors prepare recyclable materials for sale to end-users where recyclable materials are converted into new products. Beverage container beneficiating production plants, steel mills, and fiberglass mills are examples of end users. As part of preparing beverage containers for market, processors may sort materials to recover the largest amount of recyclable materials possible, potentially involving flattening, decontaminating, and baling. Processors “cancel” the beverage containers, usually by altering the shape of the container so that they cannot be redeemed for CRV again. For example, aluminum beverage containers may be canceled by shredding or densifying.

Processors are not required to purchase all container types. For instance, a processor may choose to accept only aluminum beverage containers and not accept glass or plastic. Processors cannot pay CRV to the public unless the processor is also certified as a recycling center. This is dual certification.

When selling these canceled beverage containers and other recyclable materials to end users, the scrap value received becomes the revenue for the processor.

Dropoff or Collection Program (CP)

Operators of dropoff or collection programs are prohibited from paying CRV and may be operated by individuals, partnerships, husband/wife co-ownerships, corporations, or limited liability companies. These programs may engage in one or more of the following activities:

    • Set up dropoff bins at specific locations, such as offices or schools, to collect containers on a donation basis. Dropoff bins provide centrally located operations where individuals can drop off their beverage containers for recycling as a donation to the particular organization sponsoring the locations. Most locations are self-service and open around the clock for customer convenience, although some are staffed with on-site employees to answer questions
    • Collect large volumes of empty beverage containers from a variety of places such as bars, restaurants, hotels and/or parks.
    • Separate recyclables from mixed municipal waste.

Dropoff or collection programs range in size from large, national solid waste management corporations to independent recyclers serving their local community.

Dropoff or collection program operators usually just accept or collect the donated material, selling it to someone else for processing. They make their profit from accepting or collecting empty beverage containers, then redeeming them at a certified recycling center or processing facility for CRV payment and possibly scrap value. The operator is responsible for arranging to get the beverage containers to a certified recycling center or processor where they are redeemed. Certified dropoff or collection programs are prohibited from paying CRV for containers; however, they may pay scrap value.

Operational details vary from location to location: some locations provide recycling for only one type of material (e.g. aluminum), some accept multiple materials and some provide seasonal recycling (e.g. telephone books).

Community Service Program (SP)

Community service programs are operated by a nonprofit/charitable organization with tax exempt status; or a city, county or other public agency. Like certified dropoff or collection programs, community service programs may engage in setting up dropoff bins at specific sites or collect from various locations such as schools, churches, or parks. Charitable organizations (such as environmental groups, community groups and municipal governments) often become certified as a community service program as part of their fundraising efforts.

These programs may engage in the same type of activities as dropoff or collection programs.

Recycler Home Page

For more information, visit Beverage Container Recycling Home