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.