Is recycling about saving the planet? Or paying bureaucrats’ salaries, benefits and pensions?

13 Jul

I like to look at Anthony Watts’ blog, “Watts Up With That?” for several reasons. First, it’s just enough over my head to make me reach a little. Well, sometimes it’s a lot over my head, but Watt’s keeps it witty and cheerful anyway. Second, he gets comments from all over the world, it’s really interesting to read. Third, I agree with Watts – “Global Warming” has turned into the biggest mass hysteria since “War of the Worlds”. 

There’s a lot of just plain news on WUWT – here’s a story about the California Recyling Fund that I find very sad.

Yes, I believe this is a problem, but, the real killer has been legislative raids on the fund itself – this article from 2009 describes how the CRV fund  “had hummed along successfully for two decades until state officials left it nearly bankrupt after taking $451 million out to help balance the budget.”

Balance the budget? At that time we didn’t know that meant, paying down the enormous unfunded pension liability – a.k.a. The Pension Bomb. The Pension Bomb has been ticking since Gray Davis agreed to allow the retirement systems to fund pensions with the stock market instead of making employees pay for their own benefits. By 2009 the fund had crashed a few times with the market and been bailed out to the tune of hundreds of millions by the taxpayers. Rather than bring the public in on the problem, the legislature started raiding various funds to pay down the pension deficit. They just about tanked the CRV fund, even as beverage sales went up. 

The recycling companies, small Mom and Pop firms and businesses like the Work Training Center started to rattle their chains – they weren’t getting reimbursed at the rates they were paying their customers, and sometimes they weren’t getting any money at all. One small company up near Los Molinos was having trouble staying in business, as were many others. 

I don’t think the fraud problem is too hard to figure out – pending legislation will make it illegal for one person to redeem more than a certain amount of recyclables – no more semi trucks pulling in with thousand of dollars worth of recyclables trucked in from Mexico or another state. But, it includes all kinds of hang-ups for Mom and Pop operations, requiring software reporting programs that will most likely require an extra full-time employee to run. For example, if you get more than $100 from the Work Training Center, or any center, you have to present your identification with an address. Large loads (I’m sorry I don’t know poundage) require a hauler’s license. The days of some old  retired couple just weighing the goods and doling out the cash are over.

According to this article from April, these changes have not been that good  for redemption rate (the rate at which people are returning the containers).

But that’s good for the state, because they need the CRV money to pay salaries, benefits and pensions. “The program changes have resulted in a drop in the redemption rate. At the same time, more consumers are buying drinks, resulting in a revenue boost, Collins noted. The redemption rate for fiscal year 2014-15 is projected to be 81 percent, down from 85 percent in calendar year 2013. The ‘break-even’ rate, or the redemption rate at which there are enough unredeemed containers to pay the fund’s expenses, is projected to be 79 percent. That leaves a gap of only 2 percentage points for fiscal year 2014-15, down from a 10-percentage-point gap in 2013.”

Do you get that? They’re counting on 79 percent of us not recycling so they can pay their salaries and pensions!  Is that outrageous enough for you? The only reason they care about “recycling fraud” is because it takes money out of the state’s pocket. They don’t care if 79 percent of purchased recyclable containers go straight to the landfill. 

This is the same kind of fund raiding that goes on Downtown. They’ve raided the development fund, the sewer fund, and the airport fund right into the red to pay off the pension deficit. The conservatives that are currently in charge blame it on the liberals who just got tossed over – but what are they doing about it? They’ve deferred developer fees, they’ve given fat raises to management and public safety, and they’ve moved funds around to cover their checks. They can’t fix the streets, they can’ fix the park, they are talking about selling at least a portion of Bidwell Ranch to developers. 

Fund Raiders of the Lost Paradise.

6 Responses to “Is recycling about saving the planet? Or paying bureaucrats’ salaries, benefits and pensions?”

  1. Ed July 14, 2015 at 4:53 am #

    Revenues of $1.2 billion a year, yet costs went over by $100 million a year?

    Another reason to get rid of CRV. It’s just a way to steal money from the consumer.

    And, it funds the homeless lifestyle, that garbage bag of aluminum cans could be worth $100. Recycling gives them the means to live here.

  2. Jim July 14, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Recycling is and has always been a scam to make us feel comfortable about buying single use containers. Remember when we returned soda and beer bottles, so they could be reused? The companies found it easier to just sell single use bottles and cans. Recycling makes us think it’s ok to throw them away. Only aluminum cans are effectively recycled. Most of the other stuff is expensive and energy inefficient to recycle. Your CRV pays for the recycling. I’m not sure if it should be abandoned, however something needs to change.

    • Juanita Sumner July 14, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      The problem is, it doesn’t pay for recycling – it pays salaries, benefits and pensions for state workers who don’t have anything to do with the program. They “allocate” costs – for example, if they talk about the CRV in a meeting, the staff time for that portion of the meeting is billed to the CRV. At the city of Chico they even talked about figuring in the PG&E bill for the air conditioning and lights in the room.

      I think reusable bottles are practical – I used to buy Straus Farms milk, then rinse and return the bottle to the store where I bought it. They say they’re used again.

      I’d like to see more returnable containers, in general, but I’m guessing this is a sanitation issue for grocery stores. Not sure how they would handle it.

      I’d like to see restaurants use returnable containers that can be sterilized in the dish washer. Put a deposit on it. Or, encourage customers to bring their own containers for take-out and left-overs – but this might also raise a sanitation issue.

  3. bob July 14, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

    The whole program is a rip-off. Just another way to screw the sheeple.

    And on top of it you pay sales tax on CRV. It is a tax on a tax.

    When are people going to wake up and realize gummit is just one rip-off after another?

    • Juanita Sumner July 15, 2015 at 4:08 am #

      Unfortunately, I think most people are perfectly happy being sheep – they don’t have to think for themselves. Chico is a
      Kool Aid drinking town.

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