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California to Add Wine and Spirits to Recycling Bottle Bill

California will soon add wine and spirits to its container deposit program. Effective January 1, 2024, Senate Bill 1013 amends the definition of “beverage” in the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act (“the Act”) to include distilled spirits, wine, sparkling wine, and wine from which alcohol has been removed. Spirits and wine containers have historically been excluded from this program. The revised Act also amends the definition of “wine and distilled spirit cooler” to include all wine and distilled spirit coolers, regardless of ABV.

The Act requires distributors to remit a redemption payment for every qualifying beverage container sold in California. The term “distributor” includes licensed alcoholic beverage wholesalers, manufacturers who sell beverages to California retailers (i.e., “dealers” under the Act), and importers who import beverages from out-of-state for sale to
California retailers or consumers. Wine direct shipper permittees also are subject to the new requirements and will need to register with the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (“CalRecycle”) as beverage manufacturers and distributors prior to shipping wine directly to California residents. The new law even authorizes the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to suspend or revoke wine direct shipper permits for noncompliance with the Act. Importantly, tasting rooms are excluded from the “dealer” definition, and thus, containers used in tasting rooms are not subject to the new “dealer” obligations.

CalRecycle is required to deposit distributors’ redemption payments in the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund. Containers must be labeled with the California Refund Value, which is the amount paid to consumers when they recycle eligible beverage containers at certified recycling centers. The minimum refund value is 5 cents for containers
under 24 ounces, and 10 cents for containers 24 ounces or greater. The redemption payments and refund values will also apply to wine or spirits packaged in boxes, bladders, pouches, etc., which must meet postconsumer recycled plastic content requirements. These nonstandard containers, regardless of material, will have a refund value of $0.25.

The revised Act becomes effective January 1, 2024, so wine and spirits packages will be subject to the deposit at that time. However, wine and spirits labels will not have to display the California Refund Value labels until July 1, 2025, which gives producers an additional year to update their existing packaging. The revised Act also affords an extra two-years for wine and spirits manufacturers that deal in plastic boxes, bladders, pouches, etc., to comply with the Act’s postconsumer recycled plastic content requirements.


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