Bottled Up

A quick little experiment.

When I was in college in Upstate New York, we would save our cans and bottles and take them down to the Price Chopper in big batches. (Price Chopper was a grocery chain that had as a symbol a giant quarter with an axe hacking into it; imagine that: a supermarket openly advocating the smashing in of George Washington's skull. We called it the Price Whacker, usually. Or just the Chopper.) The cans and bottles would pile up until I couldn't open my dorm room closet without a glorious cascade of cans and bottles pouring out with what I thought of as a beautiful cacophony, but my roommate thought of as that damn cheap bastard's hobo symphony.

It was kind of fun, especially the bottles, because you'd go down to the Whacker and a clerk would shove the bottles and cans through a little hole into a container box. The bottles would go through and break (we had a lot more glass back then, folks) with a neat smash. They said that they had to break the bottles so that nobody else tried to get back the deposit. Each one of those bottles and cans was worth 5 cents and they had to be counted because in New York it was a true deposit.

It turns out that here in California, it isn't a true deposit, so they don't have to count the cans and bottles. The "CRV" on the sides of these containers stands for California Redemption Value or California Refund Value. There's not a guarantee that if I paid 10 cents on a bottle when I bought it that I'll get 10 cents back from the recycling agent.

Instead of counting, they weigh.

So I thought it was time for a little experiment. The bottles had been gathering in the garage for a little while and were just about ready for sending back. I counted them. The CRV we pay on each bottle depends on the size of the bottle. So all the 2 liter bottles are 10 cents and all the bottles under 24 ounces are 5 cents. I counted:

44 2-liter bottles: 44 x .1 = $4.40
43 smaller bottles: 43 x .05 = $2.15

That's a total of $6.55. How rich do you think the recycler was going to make me? Find out after the jump.



The Brunette took the bottles over to the recycler. The recycler is out in the parking lot of a grocery store. You bring your boxes over to him and the bottles get poured out into these wire cages. Some of the bottles don't make it into the cage and roll down the parking lot because it is on a hill. After gathering every last one up, the recycler puts the cage on a scale and punches some buttons and hands you a little slip of receipt that you take into the grocery store. The grocery store gives you your cash.

Or you buy lottery tickets. It's up to you.

This bunch of 87 bottles which cost $6.55 in down payment? They paid out $7.17.

W00t! Made a profit!

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