$20 Million in Grants Awarded to Increase Recycling, Create Jobs

Jan. 13, 2009

SACRAMENTO, CA - The recently announced grants could create nearly 2,000 "green" jobs over the next several years and lead to innovations in recycling billions of beverage containers.

The California Department of Conservation allocated $20 million among 20 projects statewide. Funding for the grants comes from unclaimed California Refund Value (CRV) on aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers that end up in the trash instead of being recycled. Many grant recipients have dedicated additional funds for their projects.

"These projects help California's environment and economy, and keep our state at the leading edge of efforts to build sustainable communities," says DOC director Bridgett Luther. "Through this grants program, we promote economic development and an array of advancements in recycling and resource conservation."

California has the nation's largest bottle and can recycling program—in the first six months of 2008, Californians recycled a record 7.6 billion CRV beverage containers. As a result, the recycling rate rose to 76 percent, compared to 71 percent for the same January-June period in 2007.

While the recovery infrastructure in California is extensive, the DOC grants address opportunities for increased and more efficient recovery, cleaner supplies of recovered material, and an increase in the number of California-based manufacturers that use recycled materials in their products.

The grants were announced by director Luther at a manufacturing facility in Richmond owned by Vetrazzo, a grant recipient and maker of countertops and other surfaces that use recycled glass from bottles and other sources.

Some examples of other grant projects:

Peninsula Plastics Recycling Inc. was awarded $4.9 million toward a $27 million project to establish a plastics manufacturing facility in Stanislaus County. The facility will provide a California-based supply of food and beverage packaging made from recycled plastic. The project is expected to recover more than 880 million plastic containers annually and create 50 jobs.

REPSCO Inc. will receive close to $1 million toward a $7.8 million project to relocate its Denver-based plastics recycling center to Fresno. The company plans to increase the recycling rate of No. 2 plastic (such as that used in milk containers) by using up to 10 million pounds of the material each year to create "slip sheets," a replacement for traditional wooden pallets in transportation and warehouse applications. The grant funds will be used to purchase equipment to process almost 60 million containers into slip sheets annually and create 25 jobs.

Riverside County's CR&R Inc. will receive $730,000 to begin development of a $26 million, three-year project to create one of the most environmentally advanced materials recovery facilities (MRF) in the United States. The grant funds will help purchase an optical scanner, overhead magnet and other equipment to capture a higher volume of CRV material. The 52-acre facility will be one of the first in the United States to develop bio-methane for energy use from sorted municipal waste. It is estimated the project will process 80 million beverage containers annually and create 20 jobs.

Although not a requirement, several grantees submitted matching contributions to further demonstrate their commitment to the success of the projects. This year's matching funds totaled more than $72 million. Selection of this year's grant recipients was based on a number of factors, including:

  • The project's potential to create new temporary or permanent jobs
  • Innovation and sustainability in material collection and/or processing improvements
  • Demonstration of new technologies
  • Creation of new products using recycled beverage containers
  • Overcoming barriers to the purchase of recycled-content products

Legislation that created the Recycling Market Development and Expansion Grants program in 2004 allocated $10 million in funding annually. In 2007, legislation increased funding to $20 million annually through Jan. 1, 2012. All aspects of the state's beverage container recycling program are paid for with unclaimed refunds of CRV beverage containers, at no cost to the state's general fund.

For additional information on the Department of Conservation's Recycling Market Development and Expansion Grants program, visit www.conservation.ca.gov. For more information on beverage container recycling, visit www.bottlesandcans.com.

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