Letters to the Editor: California needs a new recycling program. It should copy Sweden’s

Recycling center
Cans and bottles at a recycling center in Sacramento in 2016.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

To the editor: There is an easy and inexpensive fix for California’s failed recycling program: Go to Sweden and ask how that country recycles 92% of its glass bottles and nearly half of its plastic.

Recycling needs to be done by customers, because they pay the 5- or 10-cent deposit per container and have the motivation to get it back.

In Sweden, all grocery stores have a receptacle unit where the customers deposit bottles and cans and get a store credit. That is efficient because there is always a grocery store around the corner. If that model were copied in California, homeless people would have a reasonable reward for cleaning up bottles and cans that could be redeemed for food.

Only an out-of-touch bureaucrat could suggest that the bottlers and distributors should do the job. They could, of course, but how and at what price?


Nils-Eric Svensson, Laguna Woods


To the editor: The distilled spirits industry is supportive of a comprehensive solution to reform California’s Bottle Bill and increase recycling rates. Unfortunately, proposals such as Senate Bill 372 do not achieve these goals.

CalReycle has been struggling to manage the Bottle Bill program for decades. It is unrealistic to expect beverage distributors to create and implement an entirely new program in the short time allocated in the bill.

This does not mean those in the industry do not see the value in shifting administrative responsibility for ensuring our containers are recycled at a high rate to an industry-led organization. Wine and spirits bottles are already being recycled through curbside recycling at a high rate.

It is unlikely, however, that consumers will take these heavy, bulky bottles to a redemption center, making the 10-cent redemption fee nothing more than a tax on consumers. This proposal has the potential to greatly increase costs for Californian’s beverage manufacturers without substantively addressing the current recycling crisis. Costs undoubtedly will then be passed onto consumers.

The antiquated Bottle Bill program needs to be reformed, but placing excessive burdens on manufacturers and increasing costs for consumers without solving the problem are not appropriate solutions.

Adam Smith, Sacramento

The writer is vice president for state government relations at the Distilled Spirits Council.


To the editor: The proposed Bottle Bill reform is a step in the right direction. While it makes some sense for bottlers to bear some responsibility for the recycling of the containers they use, it makes more sense for most responsibility to be laid on the manufacturers of the containers.

Most plastic and glass containers are marked with the triangular recycling logo, but only a select few are accepted by recyclers. If a container has no recycling value, it should not be eligible to carry the recycling logo. And, if only truly recyclable containers are allowed to be used in the state, the problem would be much closer to being solved.

Making the bottle and container manufacturers responsible for providing a system for reusing the materials they make will quickly weed out the nonrecyclable items. Simply put, if it can’t be recycled, it should not be sold or manufactured in California.

Don Green, Merced