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Consumers Getting Swindled Out Of Millions Of Dollars By California Recycling Program: Report

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Recycling is supposed to help the environment, but a new report claims consumers are getting ripped off for every extra nickel or dime paid for a recyclable bottle or can – and the state is allegedly to blame.

Recycling isn't just about saving the planet. The California Refund Value, found on the label of some products, can get consumers anywhere from 5 to 10 cents – a fact that wasn't lost on shoppers in Claremont.

When asked if he redeems his bottles and cans for cash, Dennis Bauman said, "Yes, it goes into the grandson's college fund."

But a report by Consumer Watchdog found more and more people are tossing away their bottle and can deposits. The reason, according to the consumer advocacy organization, is state-certified recycling centers are getting harder to find because 40 percent have closed in California in the last five years.

Consumer Watchdog claims many grocery stores don't take recyclables, even when they are required by law. In some rural counties, people would have travel 100 miles to get their deposit back, according to Consumer Watchdog.

"Cal Recycle said people are donating their empties – that's great, if they are truly donating. But if they're donating because they don't want to stand in line at a recycling center to get their money back, it is a bad thing for consumers. It should be your choice," said Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court.

Consumer Watchdog says the money from deposits is supposed to go to keeping recycling centers open, but argues Sacramento is junking that obligation. Instead putting more money in the pockets of grocery chains and trash haulers, which Consumer Watchdog says is costing Californians hundreds of millions of dollars in lost refunds.

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