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    Schwarzenegger Signs Calif. Beverage-recycling Relief Bill

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation supported by the California Grocers Association (CGA) that aims to restore the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program and Fund to solvency through June.

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation supported by the California Grocers Association (CGA) that aims to restore the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program and Fund to solvency through June.

    The bill also helps to lay the groundwork for a long-term solution by temporarily instituting many of the fixes grocers and the beverage industry want. The California state legislature approved the measure over a week ago after heavy lobbying by CGA and beverage manufacturers.

    Among the specific components of the legislation are:

    —Temporary acceleration of distributor payments into the fund
    —Temporary reductions in non-core expenditures.
    —A requirement that program participants be given at least 90 days’ notice of any future proportionate reductions
    —A prohibition on future borrowing from the Beverage Container Recycling Fund.
    —Retroactive restoration of proportionate reductions through June 30, 2010.

    In signing the measure, which then took effect immediately, Gov. Schwarzenegger noted: “[S]tructural changes to the program are essential before the next fiscal year begins, in order to ensure that program participants do not see another loss in funding. I urge the legislature to work with my administration expeditiously to enact the long-term solutions I proposed in January.”

    CGA President Ronald Fong characterized the signing as “a positive first step on the road to a permanent solution.” The Sacramento-based nonprofit trade group is seeking a long-term legislative fix that will restore and improve the program. Among the problems that must be dealt with are prioritization of fund expenditures, citing issues that often keep grocers from facilitating recycling operations, and an outdated convenience zone system that hampers competition and convenience.

    CGA represents about 500 retail members operating over 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada, and approximately 200 grocery supplier companies. Retail membership includes chain and independent supermarkets, convenience stores, and mass merchandisers.

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