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homeless collecting recyclables

How the Homeless are Affected by California’s Recycling Center Closures

The homeless no longer have a steady flow of cans, glass and plastic bottles to exchange for cash.

In 2015, the State of California fell short of its 75 percent recycling goal, and last year, CalRecycle conducted a survey on the state’s recycling efforts, which revealed that California residents sent more material to landfill than the previous year, causing the State of California’s recycling rate to fall below 50 percent. 

Since then, hundreds of recycling centers have closed their doors, making it even more difficult for the state to boost its recycling rate. In addition, these closures affect the homeless because they no longer have a steady flow of cans, glass and plastic bottles to exchange for cash.

AlterNet has more:

In 1848, Samuel Brannan ran through the streets of San Francisco, shouting “Gold! Gold from the American River!” To this day, California has maintained an almost-magical allure: the Golden State, a place where wealth seeps from the earth and lingers in the air, a promised land of economic prosperity. And so over the last two centuries, when times are tough, emigres have flocked to the fields of yellow poppies in search of gold hidden in the soil or jobs as fruit pickers and reprieve from the horrors of the Dust Bowl. But like the Rush of the 1840s and the rumors of economic mobility during Great Depression, California’s latest guarantee to those in need—earning money collecting recyclables—is falling short.

In 1986, California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 2020, known as the Bottle Bill, to encourage recycling and reduce litter by offering monetary redemption values on beverage containers. Up until recently, the bill has been wildly successful. The state has become a leader of environmental policy with Californians redeeming over 85% of all containers within the Bottle Bill guidelines, an amount that equals 18 billion units annually and consists of 20% of all beverage recyclables in the entire country. And as an added positive, thousands of California’s homeless have earned a steady income by collecting cans, glass, and plastic bottles and exchanging them for cash.

Read the full story here.

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