California is one of a handful of states facing a significant budget crisis. State agencies have been dealing with cuts and it looks like a decades-old recycling program may end up being the latest victim of the state’s budget woes. The bottle and aluminum can recycling program, which recycled 16 billion bottles and cans in 2008, may lose up to $9 million in 2009.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that the legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot agree on a plan to save the program. Another contributing factor is that more people submitted eligible beverage containers for redemption. With the national financial crisis, more people were redeeming cans for much-needed extra money.

Lack of the funding for the program has already led to layoffs in the industry. Despite the increased demand, two companies have laid off employees.

“[T]wo of the largest operators, Tomra Pacific and NexCycle, announced the shutdown of about 90 centers recently, laying off more than 100 workers.” Source: The Sacramento Bee

As is usually the case with controversial topics, the comment section of the article is where the real story is.

On 11/22/09, Bianchi commented:

“Cali's recycling program is bunk. I pay 5 cents per can, and I get back approx. 4/5 of 1 penny per can. I'm filling up bottles and cans with cement, to make them weigh more”

Thankfully the state isn’t implementing Bianchi-style methods to fix their budget woes, as filling up the cans with cement is surely illegal.

On 11/22/09, vonlaker71 commented on the value of the state’s recycling programs:

“I used to work for the Division of Recycling and despite your criticism, CA is still one of the best in the world and recycles more volume than anywhere.”

Vonlaker71 brings up a valid point – the state of California is known for having some of the best recycling programs in the country, including the beverage container program. If California’s program is facing financial woes and cutbacks, what is going to happen to the billions of containers that are recycled each year? This story isn’t over yet, but I hope that once a resolution has been reached, we can share news of a happy ending with you.

via [SacBee]