SAN JOSE -- One of 14 conservation corps programs in the state, the San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School is a product of the 1986 "bottle bill" that launched statewide recycling efforts.

But funds from the deposit shoppers pay on cans and on soda and water bottles are at risk of drying up in June, the school's Executive Director Bob Hennessy said.

While conservation corps schools receive attendance-based funding handed out to all public schools, they also has get CalRecycle revenue. The San Jose corps' share this year is $1.6 million.

That enables the school to employ 140 students picking up recyclables from schools, businesses and entertainment venues such as the San Jose Arena. The program serves several purposes -- job training, part-time work for students and also recycling for customers not served by curbside service. And, as part of the intent of the nearly four-decade-old bottle bill, it diverts tons of trash from landfills.

But now, the growth in the conservation fund has tapered off, partly because Californians are recycling so well. California's beverage container recycling rates have increased from 52 percent in 1988 to 82 percent in 2011.

Loss of recycling revenue "will be a disaster to us and other programs," Hennessy said.


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He is pushing to revise the bottle bill by charging a deposit on wine and hard-liquor bottles.

But facing industry opposition, that's unlikely to happen. A bill by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Los Altos, would update the bottle bill, but not expand containers requiring deposits.

Still, Hennessy is adamant.

"Pay an extra 10 cents, keep it out of the landfill," Hennessy said, "and help young men and women get training and education and be prepared for the local workforce."

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.