By Austin Schoonmaker, SAN DIEGO ENTERTAINER MAGAZINE
August 6, 2019
California’s largest operator of recycling redemption centers has shut its doors to all 248 of its locations leaving 750 employees without jobs. Thousands will no longer be able to rely on the supplemental income provided by recycling cans and bottles through its services.
RePlanet announced it would be ceasing operations of its all of its processing and redemption centers across the state, according to a statement provided by company president and CFO David Lawrence:
“With the continued reduction in State fees, the depressed pricing of recycled aluminum and PET plastic, and the rise in operating costs resulting from minimum wage increases and required health and workers compensation insurance, the Company has concluded that operation of these recycling centers and supporting operations is no longer sustainable.”
Due to increasingly low payments from the state to recycling centers, and the continual decline in the value of aluminum and plastics, many other recycling centers are faced with similar threats of closure. A report released by Consumer Watchdog shows that more than 40% of redemption centers have closed in the past five years. The data shows that consumers are getting about half of their nickel and dime deposits each year from recycling bottles and cans.
The overall result of this will have a huge impact on California’s landfills, with more cans and bottles piling up as the states recycling infrastructure continues to decline. Recycling advocates are currently lobbying the state to implement reforms in the way California subsidizes recycling programs, but as business costs continue to rise, it will become harder for providers to continue operations.
In June, the city of San Diego was forced to extend the contract of the Miramar Recycling Center to avoid closures. The City Council approved a seven-year deal, which will generate annual losses of $3-3.5 million. Previously, China was the largest purchaser of recycled materials, but recent policy changes have seen the country dramatically cutting back on buying recycled items. Despite this, San Diego is hoping to have fully implemented its “zero-waste plan” by 2040.
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