Cash Recycling, Waste Disposal Costs, and the Incomes of the Working Poor: Evidence from California

Bevin Ashenmiller


This paper finds that bottle laws reduce the costs of waste streams by diverting new material into recycling programs, in addition to increasing the income of the working poor. New survey data from California indicate that between 36% and 51% of the material generated by the redemption centers in Santa Barbara, California, would not have been captured by existing curbside recycling programs. California’s bottle law has an unusual structure, with redemption centers that pay by counting containers or by weighing the material recycled. The evidence suggests policy makers should consider structuring new bottle laws to encourage broader recycling. (JEL Q52, Q53)

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