Getting harder to be green: Global changes narrow recycling options for locals

In August, rePlanet closed the doors of its 284 California recycling locations, including the ones in Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms. The company said a reduction in state subsidies, lowered prices for aluminum and plastic and rising operating costs were the main reasons for shutting its doors.

YUCCA VALLEY — Not everything you place carefully into your recycle bin is guaranteed not to land in a landfill these days, as businesses grapple with the changing world of recycling.

Major problems facing the recycling industry have begun locals, town staff members said this month. Most recently, two recycling businesses in the Morongo Basin have closed.

China and other countries now refuse to accept the bulk of the recycled items America had been sending overseas, according to Jessica Rice, a management analyst with the town of Yucca Valley.

Rice gave a report on recycling at the Oct. 15 Town Council meeting.

“These countries were basically left with our trash,” Rice said.

With other countries refusing our recycling, some recycle haulers are putting recycled goods into public landfills, Rice said.

Not everything placed in recycling can be recycled, she cautioned.

“Some of it is winding up in a landfill,” Rice said.

To compound the problem, the worldwide recycling industry has been severely impacted due to China’s bans on accepting trash, resulting in a declining commodities market and subsequent closure of recycling centers, Rice explained.

In August, rePlanet closed the doors of its 284 California recycling locations, saying cuts in state subsidies, reduced prices for aluminum and plastic and rising operating costs were the main reasons for shutting its doors.

Statewide, California lost a net 940 of its recycling from 2015 to 2018.

But redemption centers are crucial to implementation of a 1986 state law, informally known as the California Bottle Bill. Under the law, the state pays subsidies to redemption centers to make the recycling business profitable.

That money includes payments to cover the cost of containers, including glass and plastic bottles, that are more expensive to process than the raw material is worth. 

The payments are calculated using a formula that takes into account national economic data.

When China started refusing to accept many kinds of U.S. recyclables, it contributed to the collapse of recycling markets. The declining price of commodities sent the payment formula dipping into negative territory.

According to CalRecycle, that cut into processing payments just as the recycling industry started to feel the effect of the declining global market.

Many recycling advocates believe California’s redemption program is so broken it drove rePlanet and others out of business. 

The state’s recycling agency, CalRecycle, says it has taken action to aid recyclers, but supporters are calling on both the agency and state legislators to do more to prevent a possible system-wide collapse, Rice said in her report.

Since the closure of rePlanet, Morongo Basin residents have two places to recycle their plastic bottles, cans and glass for CRV redemption values:

•Venture Recycling, 7308 Hopi Trail in Yucca Valley.

•CalGreen Recycling Center, at 282 Old Woman Springs Road in Landers.

(4) comments

DL

There is a even bigger problem at the local Landers dump. For decades I have watched in frustration as people throw away big trailers full of recyclables when they are less than 20 feet away from the recyclable rolloff.

Now, in the last few months there is only one rolloff available, it has no sign in front of it indicating it is a recyclable bin....and the doors are almost always shut. So they are intentionally discouraging recycling.

One of the kids I talked to this week said "oh, just throw your trash in there too". I looked at him rather sternly and he added "Well, they will go thru it and throw out what is not recyclable". Which indicates to me that they are may not be taking it to recyclers. How I suspect this is because just last week one of the guys there said "Well, we don't have a sign out there in front of the bin because the recycler is too far away"

The United States is going to have this kind of attitude, this decision to ignore to recycle responsibly, come back to bite them.....eventually we are going to end up looking like a third world country with garbage everywhere.

We can pay 13 billion dollars for a aircraft carrier but we can't bother, we don't care to, keep our country beautiful for our grandchildren and their children. What happens when we run out of land for dumps? Is everyone going to be living in houses on old dump sites....breathing in methane gases for decades to come? It happened in San Pedro back in the 80's.....

Dadof4

It just might be the stupid way Ca. does is recycling. Other states give you cash, say a nickel or dime for your bottle or can. Not good ol' Peoples Republic of Kalifornia. In the PRK you have to weight out your stuff my type of plastic, removed tops etc. I don't beleive that the 30 cents I pay in CRV fees weighs out to 30 cents. PRK Dems just make things harder to do.

idavidgraficks

DL was talking about non-CRV plastics and other recyclables, not CRV plastic or aluminum. Those awful California Dems still pay for CRV. Really Dadof4?

d105s393

Two points I'd like to make: 1. Think of how products were wrapped & reused in the 40's & 50"s and even the 60's. All beverages & liquids came in a glass container, you received your deposit back when you returned it and then the same bottle was reused. Thus no need to take it to a dump, you returned it from where you bought it.

2. Come up with a way to create an industry to re-used the plastic in a different manner. I've been reusing bags that had been made from rice bags in Cambodia and have purchased waxed canvas bags 15 years ago that I still use. And I have several Chico bags of which one is in my purse. I end up stopping and buying something I hadn't planned on I pull the bag out of my purse. All bags are kept in the back of my Hybrid SUV so if I buy more than I took bags into the store for I have them just put it in the cart and bag it when I get back to the truck. If this country can go from the US Cav. on horses in 1939 with an army of 189,000 people to a super power in the world by 1945, then I think we're smart enough to fix this problem without shipping our trash around the world.

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