Newsom OKs deposits on wine and liquor containers. And yes, boxed wine is included

By Published On: October 10, 2022

John Holland, The Sacramento Bee (MCT)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill adding wine and liquor containers to California’s deposit program.

The measure covers bottles, cans and even cardboard wine boxes and the plastic pouches inside them. They are filled by the millions each year in the Modesto area, which leads the nation in wine volume.

The state has had deposits on soda, beer, water and juice containers since 1986, mostly 5 cents. The program seeks to conserve energy and raw materials while reducing litter.

Wine and liquor will have deposits starting Jan. 1, 2024. They will be 10 cents for a 750-milliliter bottle, the most common type, and a nickel for smaller bottles and aluminum cans.

Bag-in-a-box containers will have 25-cent deposits. They typically are 3 or 5 liters and stay fresh for a few weeks after opening.

Consumers should squeeze almost all of the wine out of the pouch to ease recycling, and rinse their glass and aluminum containers.

‘A big step’ against trash

The measure, Senate Bill 1013, passed the Legislature in late August and was signed Tuesday. It was authored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa.

“Today we take a big step toward increasing the recycling rates of millions of bottles that would otherwise wind up in our landfills or be illegally discarded,” Dodd said in a news release.

Beverage distributors pay the deposit money into a state fund that in turn pays recycling centers taking part in the redemption program.

The wine industry had resisted placing deposits on its containers. A statement Wednesday from The Wine Institute, based in San Francisco, said several amendments made the bill palatable. They include money to add redemption centers and to expand the capacity of recyclers.

Four big players in region

E.&J. Gallo Winery of Modesto is the nation’s top producer and already uses plenty of recycled material in its glass plant. It also offers boxed wine and several types of liquor in bottles. The company has declined to comment as the legislation advanced.

The best-selling boxed wine is made under the Franzia label at a plant northeast of Ripon. It is owned by The Wine Group, which is based in Livermore and has numerous bottled brands.

Bota Box is a popular brand for Delicato Family Wines, which has its largest winery north of Manteca. It bottles wine there and near the coast.

Bronco Wine Co., south of Ceres, also does high-volume bottles and boxes.

The bill’s authors hope to boost the 30% recycling rate for the 1 billion or so wine and spirits bottles produced in the state each year.

“California’s bottle bill recycling program has needed fixing for 40 years,” Atkins said in the release.

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