We all know that we can recycle aluminum and plastics, but on January 1, 2024, the Golden State added more containers to the list of recyclables that can make you extra cash.

NBC 7 Responds found these changes confusing and some recycling centers are turning beverage containers away when they could be accepted.

Every day South Bay Recycling in Chula Vista processes thousands of pounds of plastic, glass, and aluminum.

Maysoon Namoo, the owner, oversees the whole operation in this male-dominated industry. Her daughter Sandy Saliwa runs the administrative side of the family business.

Saliwa mainly keeps track of the state guidelines and regulations. This year, she’s telling customers about changes to the state recycling program.

Changes to the Beverage Container Recycling Program:

All wine, spirits, and juice containers can now be recycled for cash. Also, not only glass and plastic bottles, but also pouches, boxes, and cartons can be recycled. 

So how can we tell which containers are part of the program? This is a question Saliwa hears often through all the recycling noise. 


The short answer is if the container is not included in the program, it can’t be sold for money because you never paid the fee at the store and that’s where the confusion starts.

So let’s clear up that confusion.

When you grab one of these drinks off the shelf and then scan it at the checkout, you pay a California Redemption Value or CRV. You will see an extra charge on your receipt. This means it’s a container you can recycle for money. You will also see CRV listed on the labels of most items.

However, the new containers added this year are not required to have it on the label until July 2025. 

With this said, do not remove the labels from the containers. Recycling centers are not allowed to take them without the CRV notation.

Recycling centers will pay per item on some containers but most are placed on a scale. So don’t try to be slick by adding weight to them, like sand, and pebbles, and that includes selling them right after it rains. 

“Now we’re shaking them extra hard trying to get the liquid out. We are permitted by the state to take a percentage off for contamination,” explained Saliwa. 

She added that once it’s compacted and resold to a processor, there will be a variance in the weight which will crush the recycling center’s bottom line. 

“We’re a small family-owned and operated business and these little things add up and create issues,” Saliwa told us.

Is there a recycling center or retailer refusing to redeem CRV?

Cal Recycle said the fastest, most effective way to file a complaint against a center is by emailing CalRecycle.

There are 1,248 recycling centers statewide that buy back empty CRV beverage containers. If you want to find a recycling center closer to you, click here

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