Our Audience Asks: What Is the 50/50/50 Rule?
Last week, I received a phone call from a fellow Californian and avid recycler asking about the 50/50/50 rule at recycling centers. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I’ll get to it shortly. After the call, I started wondering what people actually know about the Beverage Container Recycling Program regulations, California law, and rules made by recycling centers for operational efficiency. So, let’s clear up some confusion.
California Refund Value (CRV)
Most people know what this is, but just in case, here’s a refresher! CRV is the amount a customer pays when they purchase beverages in eligible containers like aluminum, plastic, and glass. You should see this amount on your store receipt. This amount is paid back to customers once they return the eligible containers to a certified recycling center or dealer (the place where you bought the container). The amount for each container is 5 cents for anything under 24 ounces and 10 cents for anything 24 ounces or greater.
Certified Recycling Centers
Recycling centers are privately owned businesses that are certified by us, CalRecycle. And just like any other company, they’re in the business of making money, so you may have noticed some closing in recent years because it’s hard to turn a profit when global markets take a downward turn. These privately owned businesses are allowed to make certain rules about collecting recyclables for business operation efficiency, but they must follow certain regulations set by CalRecycle, and CalRecycle must follow the laws set by the State of California. That also means if you have a complaint or concern about a specific recycling center or dealer, you can call us at 1-800-Recycle to file a formal complaint. Our hotline staff really appreciate when you’re polite to them! I know because I sit right next to them and hear what they have to go through--it’s not always pretty. After your complaint is filed, our department will follow up with that center to resolve the issue.
Recycling centers are allowed to pay by weight as a matter of business efficiency, but if you request to have the recycling center count each container so you can redeem the exact amount you paid, California law allows you that option. The recycling center is required to comply with that rule. But, in order to keep business moving, recyclers are only required to pay by “count” for 50 of each container type per visit, for a total of 150 CRV-eligible containers. If you bring more, they have the right to pay for the additional material by weight. And just to ensure the recycling center attendant and people in line behind you don’t roll their eyes at you, sort your containers ahead of time and let them know beforehand that you want to receive payment by count.
For more information about Beverage Container Recycling visit our FAQ page!