RePlanet, the nation’s largest beverage container collection network, closed all recycling centers on Monday, Aug. 5.
RePlanet, which collected an average of 60 million pounds of aluminum annually at its 284 centers, also announced that it was terminating its workforce of 750 throughout California.
“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,” said a statement issued by CEO David Lawrence.
The company will be liquidated.
“We regret that these site closures will negatively impact our employees, grocer partners, customers and the recycling community at large,” the statement said. “We thank our employees for their hard work and dedication in providing convenient recycling opportunities to our valued customers across the State of California.:
RePlanet, which also collected an average of 90 million pounds of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and 120 million pounds of glass annually, had locations at supermarkets as part of the 1986 enacted AB 2020, which encouraged recycling and litter reduction.
The reverse vending technology put millions of dollars into people’s hands while keeping containers out of the landfills.
Now, residents such as Ron Carlson of Redlands will have to find another way of collecting cash for their recycling efforts. Carlson said the closure would create a huge issue for residents who depend on the extra income — residents like members of the homeless population who now would have travel long distances in order to cash out.
“I mean, I understand it’s not economically feasible for them anymore, but I would accept less cash for my cans. The thing is there are people who depend on this money to survive, they’ll suffer the consequences,” said Carlson, moments after realizing the recycling center at Stater Bros. on Barton Road was closed permanently.
According to the California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), the export of recyclable materials is a key component of California’s recycling infrastructure. Recent changes to international policies restricting foreign imports of recyclable materials, coupled with the need to reduce contamination levels have resulted in significant challenges for the solid waste and recycling industry, local governments and Californians.
CalRecycle told the Redlands Community News the department is gathering more information about the closure and the resulting impact on California consumers. California has taken action to stabilize Beverage Container Recycling Program subsidies paid to beverage container buyback centers to help cover the cost of processing material. It will continue to explore ways to support the program.
“That said, beverage container recycling centers are private businesses and many have decided to close in recent years, despite the subsidies they receive from the program, due to economic conditions affecting the industry as a whole,” a CalRecycle spokesman said.
Each year, California exports about one third of the recyclable materials it collects, and historically it has gone to China for processing and manufacturing into new products, CalRecycle said. However, China’s recent strict contamination limits and import bans have led to a stockpiling of materials at California solid waste and recycling facilities and declining markets for recyclables.
The National Sword, China’s ban of most recyclables, particularly plastics and contaminated materials, could be only the beginning. Things could get worst. Last May, China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S, goods that include 20 percent duty on recycled paper pulp, CalRecycle said.
Closest recycling centers still open
Amigos Recycling, 27170 W 5th St, Highland, (909) 864-9215
City Recycling Center, 836 Preston St, San Bernardino, (909) 888-5700
Roberto's, 25486 Baseline, San Bernardino, (562) 415-3569