CRV – The Hidden Fake Tax

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Glass Bottles With CRV ready to return

CRV or California Redemption Value is a tax, get your money back.

In California and a few other states, there is a value placed on any single serving beverage container. Usually it is a water or soda bottle or can. It doesn’t matter if it is glass, plastic or aluminum. In many countries recycling is a problem because people simply steal the recycling to turn in for money. That is starting to happen here.

Do You Recycle?

Obviously as a #RWTH, I like the concept of recycling. The problem is that plastics are not being recycled as they should. To begin with only the bottles are made with a plastic that is normally recycled. Even then much of it is no longer recycled because it doesn’t make economic sense.

Programs like CRV encourage people to return the bottles to a recycling center. But when you get there you find that you are getting half of the money back. Once upon a time when you bought a six pack of soda, you paid 5 cents for the bottle. Back then, ten bottles was a gallon of gas. Today returning 10 bottles won’t buy a half cup of gas.

CRV isn’t enough for most people to bother, so about half of the bottles end up in recycling bins somewhere and 40% end up in the garbage. Less than 10% are returned for CRV in California. The state of California loves this “surplus” because it is not “tax money” and they can spend it anyway they want. Some of the problem is due to the lack of places to go, and some is because the CRV is so low that it isn’t worth our time.

While we have a recycling bin at home, all CRV is either donated to the local baseball league for kids or in the case of glass, I return it to the store in the box it came in. Re-using is better than recycling.

Which is better, Glass, Plastic or Aluminum?

The choice of beverage container isn’t always yours to make. Sometimes only plastic or aluminum is available. Plastic is lighter and costs less to transport and fill so beverage companies like it. Aluminum is also lighter than glass, and is more easily recyclable. There is some belief that excessive aluminum exposure can lead to or advance alzheimers. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound good to me.

Groups like 4Ocean and The Ocean Cleanup pull millions of pounds of plastics out of the oceans every year. They do their best to recycle it but much is left to the landfills around the globe. Plastic straws kill turtles according to many marine sanctuary and rescue centers. I carry a glass straw every where I go.

Glass is at the top of the Class.

Glass is the most recyclable and reusable material ever created. It has infinite re-usablity and can be broken down by natural forces quite easily. Because it is heavier than water, it settles to the bottom of the oceans and can create habitats for tiny creatures. That’s why in the days before CRV, the bottle deposit made sense.

Glass doesn’t require anything other than an inexpensive sterilizing to reuse. Vinegar and water cleaning will usually do the trick. Europeans are way ahead of us on this. They buy juice in a glass bottle with a resealable top. That bottle is washed, reused and eventually sent back to the juice company for a refill like we did here in the states many years ago.

Why Corporate America Doesn’t Like Glass.

One of the rules of business that corporate America lives by is the “economy of scale”. Instead of having a soda bottler in every town or city, there are only one or two in some states, and none in others. This means a lot of the expense is transportation. Heavy glass means less product and higher transportation costs with centralized production.

Glass is heavy. When the oil business realized the impact on shipping that aluminum cans would have, they created the plastics industry. Promoting Plastic as the more environmentally friendly package, we became addicted to plastic. That is a hard addiction to break.

How can a #RWTH make a difference

When I go to the store, I do my best to find my soda’s in glass bottles. It is sad when companies sell to a conglomerate and switch from glass to plastic. Or when investors come in and demand higher returns. Glass has integrity, and is the only real environmental choice.

Recently instead of buying individual soda water bottles (Tops Chico still comes in glass), we bought a soda stream from Williams-Sonoma. Sadly even the glass one didn’t hold the bubbles for more than a day. Then I discovered that my uKeg 128 Growler could make soda water! I can reuse those fancy European juice bottles and they hold the bubbles for a week or so.

Every where you look in the grocery store is plastic. Even Whole Foods, has plastic bags for vegetables, fish and other products. Never mind the additional plastic waste due to covid’s non sense. Polyester masks, plastic disposable face shields and rubber gloves. None of these are in our home or cars. Cotton masks and washable gloves for working on cars and leather gloves for the garden is about it.

The bottom line is that glass and even aluminum costs a little more up front. Plastic costs a lot less of front but we pay a lot more in the end.

The next time you have a chance to avoid plastic, be a #RWTH and pay it forward.

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