When California's bottle law first took effect four years ago, there was no rush to return beer and soda containers to refund centers. Recycling an empty container paid only a penny, too small an incentive for most consumers.
The reward grew last year to a nickel for two bottles or cans. That increase has paid off with a dramatic boost in recycling, and a state program that is finally working.
Californians are recycling 68% of all beverage containers, according to a state report. That effort is taking a load off swollen landfills and adding a few dollars to the family budget.
Recycling has doubled since the law took effect. More than three-fourths of aluminum cans are returned. At least half of all empty bottles are turned in, and nearly a third of plastic containers are deposited through the growing number of recycling centers and curbside programs.