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Recycling options diminish after hundreds of California recycling centers shut down

Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 22:02:33-04

For those looking to recycle their cans and bottles, finding a center that’s still open could be difficult after hundreds of recycling centers in California were closed over the weekend.

RePlanet, California's largest recycling center, closed all 284 of its locations, leaving San Luis Obispo County residents with fewer options and questions about getting their money back from recycling.

RePlanet says it shut down all of its recycling operations in California due to a decline in recycled aluminum and plastic prices and increased operating costs.

The move is already affecting people on the Central Coast.

"It has really decreased my money income and it's just harder to get money. I don't do panhandling so this was my only source of income,” said Santa Maria resident Jesse Carreras.

With the recent RePlanet closures, Jorge Garcia, owner of Recycle 101 in Oceano, is one of the last recycling centers left in San Luis Obispo County, and he’s feeling the impact.

"With the new customers, I'm going to definitely have to get a new trailer to be able to take all this load that I'm going to get from these new clients,” Garcia said.

Under the CRV, or California Redemption Value, consumers pay a five to ten cent fee when buying beverages and get a refund if they recycle those containers, but with fewer opportunities to recycle, residents are concerned about the future of the CRV.

"It's just the idea they're charging us at the register and we'd basically like to know what are they going to do about that. Not charge us?” said Santa Maria resident Gary Wog.

"A lot of people are not going to get their CRV back, or their money back, and you're going to see probably more people not recycling,” Garcia added.

According to the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority, there are only four recycling centers left in the county, one each in Cambria, Oceano, Paso Robles, and Los Osos.

Garcia wonders if the trek to recycle will be worth it.

"Now if they have to hitch a ride or drive all the way, they may get just ten dollars, and they already wasted five dollars in gas, so it's kind of not sometimes worth it,” he said.

KSBY reached out to CalRecycle about the situation and the future of the CRV but haven't heard back.

There are about 60 grocery stores in the county that will give people money back for their recyclables, and most stores that KSBY spoke with do take part in this program. But to be safe, call and confirm before you go in.

California's Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act sets rules for beverage retailers and when they are required to accept bottles and cans for CRV redemption.

Click here for a list of beverage retailers in San Luis Obispo County that buy back CRV bottles and cans from the public.