The state's new bottle law rewards thrifty consumers with a penny and sometimes more for recycling soft-drink and beer containers. A penny might not sound like much, but those pennies can add up pretty quickly. Californians drink an estimated 12 billion sodas and beers a year.
Under the new law, distributors pay a penny per bottle or can into a state fund. From that fund the state guarantees a refund to consumers who paid a penny on the containers at the store if they return the empties. We hope that the small incentive pays off with cleaner streets, beaches and parks.
The law requires large supermarkets to identify or set up convenient return stations within a half-mile of the store by Jan. 1 to encourage recycling; 1,000 centers are open, and 2,000 are in the process of opening. Shoppers will have no excuse.
Consumers who bypass the store depots to return containers to recycling centers will get the penny refund plus the scrap value. Aluminum cans are getting up to 2 cents. A resourceful collector can easily fatten the refund.