SACREMENTO, CALIF. - Soft drink bottlers and plastic recyclers have come around to support legislation that makes major changes to California's bottle and can recycling bill. The measure, by State Sen. Jack O'Connell, D-Calif., Santa Barbara, appeared headed for the governor's desk for signing after passing a key hurdle in the Assembly on Aug. 28.
Observers called the compromise extraordinary among environmentalists, supermarkets, scrap dealers, beer and soda pop makers, glass makers, waste haulers and plastics recyclers, according to Waste News, a sister publication of Plastics News.
Key among the opponents were plastics recyclers, who tried to scrap the idea of subsidized recycling in favor of a bill that would allow market forces to develop. Ralph Simoni, a lobbyist for the plastics recyclers, said his group removed its objection when it became clear a bill it had favored was doomed.
At the same time, amendments were introduced to O'Connell's bill to ease the processing fees and make it more acceptable to the plastics interests.
Without the bill, a current cap on processing fees paid by glass and plastic container manufacturers would expire, allowing the fees to soar.
At the same time, an $18.5 million annual subsidy to ``convenience zone'' recyclers who operate in supermarket parking lots, buying containers from consumers at redemption value, would expire.
The new bill keeps the processing fees and subsidy in place, and lowers to 35 percent a requirement in the expiring bill that bottles be made of 65 percent recycled glass by 2005.
Processing fees are paid by glass and plastic container manufacturers to support the actual cost of recycling their products.
Under the new bill, the processing fees will be subsidized from a fund built up from unredeemed bottles and cans.