Brewers need cans. California's broken recycling system is making them hard to find.

Discussion in 'US - West' started by JackHorzempa, Jul 12, 2022.

  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Some snippets from the below linked article:

    One reason for the can shortage:

    “California’s creaking recycling system can’t collect enough cans, one consequence of a program that has been crippled by redemption center closures and out-of-date policies that have made it harder for people to recycle effectively.”

    And:

    “The chronic shortage highlights how an overlooked link in the supply chain — trash — can hamstring a beloved, and booming, industry.

    About 73% of an aluminum can comes from recycled scrap. As demand for canned beverages boomed in recent years, the state’s patchwork of recycling centers and recovery facilities just couldn’t keep pace.

    In the last five years, California’s recycling rate for aluminum cans has fallen 20%, from 91% in 2016 to 73% in 2021, according to data from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle.”

    Also:

    “In 2015, there were 2,245 buyback centers, or places where consumers could go to claim their nickel deposit on a bottle or can in the California Refund Value program. Those centers make their money by selling aluminum — as well as paper, glass and some plastic — on the scrap market. The price of scrap metals caved that year, falling 30.8%, and the centers began to close en masse.

    Some 420 centers couldn’t pay their bills and closed. An additional 600 shuttered during the next five years. CalRecycle, the state agency in charge, did little to stem the tide, according to critics.”

    https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/brewers-cans-californias-broken-recycling-120055216.html

    Cheers!
     
  2. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,628) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    California, of all places on earth, can't recycle properly? :rolling_eyes:
     
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  3. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,197) May 23, 2011 Washington
    Trader

    I was wondering the same thing. All my cans go in my recycle bin that gets picked up every other Friday.
     
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  4. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (13,628) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Yeah, I don't think it's an issue with people not recycling, it's an issue with management. CA has lots and lots of money to put towards recycling but CalRecycle has obviously dropped the ball. If the recycling centers needed financial help the state could have given them very low percentage loans to help keep their doors open. Hell, they could have even paid them just to stay open! What's their budget surplus... something like $97 billion?!!!
     
  5. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    I have no clue how things have changed in the past 18 years since I lived there, but I remember trying to recycle cans as a kid was a hassle. Only a handful of locations you could return them, and you had to lug bags full to the shop, wait in long lines, then put them all on the scale. Nothing close to what we have in Oregon.
     
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  6. SoCalBeerIdiot

    SoCalBeerIdiot Crusader (708) Mar 10, 2013 California
    Trader

    How does it work in Oregon?
     
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  7. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,197) May 23, 2011 Washington
    Trader

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  8. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Crusader (730) Mar 19, 2012 California

    The problem is not only at the collection end. Over the past couple of years, we have found out that a lot of recycle materials were just sold to China. Well, China stopped buying and they struggled on how to get the materials to someone who would recycle. Additionally, they way material are collected at homes is not the best. It's hard to pick out materials and stuff gets contaminated. So, recycle materials end up in landfills.
     
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  9. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 Crusader (777) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    Pretty much this:

    I will say, the rise of the BottleDrop green bags has made recycling soooo simple. Put a green bag in a trash can. Pour beers, drink sodas, bottled water, mix drinks, etc, etc, put the empties in the bag. Full bag gets tied off, sticker slapped on, new bag in the can. Take 5 bags with me to Fred Meyers when I shop, toss them in the bin. Grab a slip for the last bags I dropped, give it to the cashier at checkout and walk away with my cash. No rank sticky floored shops with broken machines while the sketchy dude eyeballs you.
     
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  10. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,109) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    As others pointed out, the issue is the way the state chose to structure the recycling program. It was all contingent on their being a reliable market for the recyclable material and that was all built on very low standards from the Chinese. When the Chinese stopped accepting the vast majority of our recycling the market that our return system was based on collapsed and most of the return places started operating at a loss.
    There's going to have to be a systemic fix from the state for the program to get back to functioning successfully
     
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  11. BigIronH

    BigIronH Poo-Bah (1,603) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I’m not sure how it works in MI after they leave the machines. (I.E. does it go to China?) But it seems like a simple 10 cent deposit works pretty damn well, here. There aren’t hardly any cans laying in the streets or ditches. Even when people don’t feel like taking them back (me), there’s constantly a local group who will come pick them up as a donation (Girl Scouts, animal shelter, youth football). We have machines in every grocery store for can return. What is impeding California (and other states) from integrating an easy and useful system for collections? Cheers.
     
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  12. IrishMASMS

    IrishMASMS Aspirant (228) Oct 6, 2019 California
    Society Trader

    There is a difference with can & bottle recycling - putting in the recycle bin for pickup and taking them to the recycling center for the deposit.

    The recycling centers in California are a shit show. No surprise so many have closed, which makes it even harder to get your deposit & recycle.
     
  13. moodenba

    moodenba Defender (601) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    Lots of problems, with no universal solution. California doesn't have a magic bullet. Recycling probably took a hit during Covid wherever people have to make a special trip the the recycle center, considering the need to visit a possibly messy location. Recently, the spike in oil prices means that trip becomes more expensive too. Also, the common incentive of 5c (or less) is much less of a factor now than in the 1970s and 80s (of course most areas have lesser payments and some have higher). Aluminum prices probably haven't taken a hit, but other materials' values have fallen. Recyclables into one bin in the trash is probably OK, but could have drawbacks. If a recycling center is dependent on a wide spectrum of materials, it might become uneconomic overall. Fewer containers and less packaging, more reusable items, would help everywhere. Consumer separated recyclables would be good too.
     
  14. mactrail

    mactrail Poo-Bah (12,136) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
    Moderator Society Trader

    The old small town model was Yuengling. If you lived in Pottsville you picked up a couple of cases at the brewery and put them in your garage or other cool spot. When you finished a beer you put it back in the box. Next time needing beer, return the cases of empties and pick up your new supply.
     
  15. mactrail

    mactrail Poo-Bah (12,136) Mar 24, 2009 Washington
    Moderator Society Trader

    How did it work in Oregon back in the days of the Stubby?
     
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  16. moodenba

    moodenba Defender (601) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    stubby didn't have a big market share, but they became more popular when the bottle law came in. Stubby was 2c while non-standard packages were 5c. The nationals put their beers into stubbies for a while (Pabst, Hamms, and maybe some others). But eventually the stubby went out of style. Then some of the Northwest brewers used special mold twist-offs that were actually refillable. Part of the problem was that the stubby was 11 oz and cans and some bottles were 12 oz. At one point Blitz also adopted the 12 oz export refillable (Big Blitz posters).
     
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  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,614) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    It wasn't just in the town of Pottsville. Back in the day in Pennsylvania you would purchase your case of beer in returnable bottles of varying breweries (yeah, Yuengling but also Bud, Miller, Schmidt's,...) at your local Retail Beer Distributor. You would return the case (with the empty bottles) to the Retail Beer Distributor and they would give you a chit (my local Retail Beer Distributor used wooden nickels) which would be applied as the deposit for your next case purchase. When you walked into the Retail Beer Distributor there was an area for stacking the case (with empty bottles).

    Cheers!
     
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  18. kmcnair

    kmcnair Devotee (481) Jul 24, 2003 California

    One issue that beverage manufacturers face which adds to this problem is that we're not allowed to scrap or recycle aluminum cans that do not have a lid on them. This is because the can body doesn't have any CRV information on it. This means any cans that are dented, warped, or otherwise deemed unsuitable for filling have to go in the trash. The recycling centers will not take them. At our size filling 200-300 cases per week, we might have to trash as much as a couple hundred brite cans per run. Every pallet of brite cans arrives with a decent number of dented (unusable) cans.
     
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  19. moodenba

    moodenba Defender (601) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    I understand that you wouldn't get the crv payment, but isn't there a parallel recyling effort for other aluminum products? Here in my corner of NY, we can recycle any cans and bottles that have an unreadable UPC (or are outside the required deposit law) at our transfer station.
     
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  20. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,109) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Even the scrap yard won't take them? That seems like some premium scrap honestly.

    Maybe you guys should build a little forge so you can turn your dented empties in aluminum ingots!
     
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  21. UnknownKoger

    UnknownKoger Defender (625) Jul 9, 2010 California

    One of my local breweries, Ambitious Ales, has started doing 16oz "mini crowlers"...it's just one of their cans that they fill from the tap and cap it off. I wonder if this is why they're doing that.
     
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  22. ballardbeer

    ballardbeer Initiate (135) Nov 10, 2013 Washington

    heyo, love to see the conversation about recycling. somewhat of a tangental conversation, but has anyone done any research into the recycle rate of aluminum cans with the classic craft vinyl label? i've been peeling these off, but only recently, as guidance from the aluminum industry kind of suggests that we are screwing up the aluminum supply cycle because these cans often get sorted out/missed from the recycler.
     
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