OLR Research Report

January 30, 2007




By: Joseph Holstead, Associate Analyst

You asked for a summary of (1) recent changes to California's “CRV” program for beverage containers, (2) the “Recycle Bank,” and (3) Tennessee's inventory tax on beverages (i.e., money for recycling),

We are currently waiting for information on Tennessee's tax and will forward it to you as soon as we receive it.


In California, consumers pay a deposit fee on containers, the California Refund Value (CRV), when purchasing certain beverages. A recycling center refunds the CRV to the consumer when he or she returns the empty container. Before January 1, 2007, consumers paid a $.04 deposit for each container less than 24 ounces and $.08 for each container 24 ounces and greater, and, in turn, received a respective $.04 or $.08 refund on the returned containers.

However, under a 2006 state law (AB 3056), effective January 1, 2007, the CRV refund increased to $.05 for each beverage container less than 24 ounces and $.10 for each container 24 ounces or greater. Consumers will continue to pay the current $.04 for beverage and $.08, respectively, through June 30, 2007. That is, for the first six months of the year, the recycling refund will be larger than the deposit for most beverages in aluminum, glass, and plastic containers, according to California's Department of Conservation (DOC). (Beverages subject to the CRV include beer and other malt beverages, soft drinks, wine and distilled spirit coolers, carbonated mineral water, soda water, noncarbonated water, fruit drinks, some vegetable juices, coffee and tea beverages, and sport drinks (Cal. Public Resources Code 14502 -14529.7)).

Beginning July 1, 2007, if the state did not achieve an overall recycling rate of 75% for calendar year 2006, the consumers deposit on beverage containers will match the CRV refund (Cal. Public Resources Code 14560).

More information is available at DOC's Division of Recycling website:


The ReycleBank is a recycling system owned by RecycleBank, LLC. Philadelphia began using RecycleBank as a multi-year pilot program to examine the benefits of incentive based recycling in 2004. In the first phases of the pilot, which targeted households in two neighborhoods (with 1,200 households in one neighborhood alone), recycling rates went from fairly low to 90% in a few months, according to the article, “Entrepreneurs Launch a Business that Pays Residents to Recycle,” from the September/October 2005 edition of In Business magazine, which profiles small companies and coalitions that provide goods and services to improve quality of life and the environment

Under the system, participating households receive a RecycleBank recycling container (35, 64, or 96 gallon) with a barcode on it. City recycling trucks with scanning equipment pick up the containers and scan the barcodes. The scanned amounts translate into RecycleBank “dollars,” which are redeemable as coupons at participating stores. Customers can get the coupons online or call a 1-800 number and receive them via U.S. mail in two to three days, according to the RecycleBank website (

Specifically, RecycleBank gives participants $5 in coupons for each 10 pounds a household leaves for collection, up to $25 per month. It charges municipalities or private haulers $24 per month per household. Households can use the coupons at neighborhood convenience stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and grocery stores, according to the In Business article.

RecycleBank takes newspaper, mixed paper, white paper, envelopes, cardboard, junk mail, magazines, telephone books, glass bottles and jars, cereal boxes, detergent containers, plastic containers #1 and #2, plastic milk containers, aluminum cans, steel cans, tin cans, and empty aerosol cans. Participants can recycle old cell phones or used ink cartridges by mailing them to the RecycleBank, which is also formulating an electronic waste collection program, according to its website.

According to a May/June 2006 In Business update, in February 2006, “…The New York Times provided these details: several municipalities in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions are interested in starting RecycleBank programs. Wilmington, Delaware began with 4,000 households. Casella Waste Systems in Rutland, Vermont will introduce the program to 100,000 households next year.” We have attached copies of the article and update.