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Central coast winemakers react to new CA bill proposing industry-run bottle recycling program


SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Senate Bill 372, The Beverage Container Recycling Act of 2020, passed the state senate Environmental Quality Committee Wednesday.

The bill proposes an industry-run bottle and can recycling program. It would replace the current one.

The bill would make drink distributors create their own systems to take back their containers. The plan would also add wine and liquor bottles to the program.

Next, the bill will head to committee on appropriations.

Some winemakers we talked to today support the proposal. They said everyone has a responsibility to help the environment.

"I think it's as much an energy issue as much as a resources issue," said Wes Hagen, a winemaker for Miller Family Wine Company in Santa Maria. Hagen said it's "about what we can do to make California gorgeous and pristine for the next generation."

He is also doubtful the bill would affect their bottom line.

"I don't think it would affect it at all... If you're talking about two and a half or five cents a bottle, I think my strong belief is that anything that makes California more beautiful is a great thing."

Other winemakers and community leaders we talked to are not so sure. Some said it could create extra cost for winemakers and deter consumers from buying bottles.

If the bill passes, it means you would have to pay a five or ten cent deposit on the bottles. The aim is for to make consumers more likely to recycle them.

However, recycling has become more difficult in California. About half of the state's recycling centers have closed in recent years, leading consumers to toss their recyclables in the trash.

“We don’t have a place to bring our bottles and cans," said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. "The companies that are making the money selling the juice and soda are also the companies that should be handling the redemption and be responsible for having a 90% redemption rate.”

Some lawmakers and Consumer Watchdog have suggested that retailers like Pepsi and Coca-Cola should help with recycling redemption.

Waste management says “recycling is facing some of the most severe challenges it ever has and sometimes organizations can’t weather the storm."

Despite the difficulty, Hagen says that recycling is worth the extra effort.

"Generally, we know it only takes five to ten seconds longer to put trash where it belongs," he said.

A similar bill was successful in Oregon. If successful here, wine bottles would be added to CRV program in 2024.

Article Topic Follows: Local Politics

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Anikka Abbott

Anikka Abbott is a weather anchor and reporter for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Anikka, click here.


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