The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) filed a $3.6 million enforcement action against CVS this week over failure to redeem deposits on recycled bottles and cans.
CalRecycle, which oversees California’s solid waste handling and recycling programs, said that its investigation found that 81 CVS Pharmacy retail stores in the state had refused to redeem California Redemption Value (CRV) beverage containers, failed to pay the $100 daily fee for not redeeming the containers, or failed to submit an affidavit about complying with redemption standards.
Of the $3.6 million enforcement action, $1.8 million is to recover the $100-a-day fees that CalRecycle says CVS stores had not paid as of October 31, 2019. The other half represents $100-a-day in civil penalties. A spokesperson for the department told the Associated Press that this was their largest enforcement action against a retailer for failing to redeem recyclables.
“Retailers face financial consequences if they do not fulfill their legal takeback requirements,” said CalRecycle director Scott Smithline. “This $3.6 million action is part of our ongoing enforcement of the bottles and cans program that includes intensified inspection efforts and ongoing recycling fraud crackdowns.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said that the company “is committed to contributing to healthier, more sustainable communities and we are currently reviewing the state of California’s filing.” CVS has 848 retail stores in the state, according to CalRecycle.
California is one of a dozen US states that has a deposit-refund system for beverage containers, but the consumer advocacy nonprofit Consumer Watchdog told the AP that more consumers are throwing bottles and cans away because they can’t find convenient recycling locations.
The CalRecycle enforcement action comes at a time of enormous change in the global recycling industry. “State subsidies to recyclers have increased each of the last four years to cover the declining prices for scrap recyclables, resulting in $176 million in payments to recyclers in 2018,” the department said.
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